Monday, June 11, 2007

Fast stream ciphers from eSTREAM

Several years ago the EU (European Union), through a project called NESSIE, analyzed and recommended a number of cryptographic primitives. You can learn more about NESSIE from the links below. One category in which they were not satisfied and made no recommendation is stream ciphers, so they launched a new project, eSTREAM, expressly for the evaluation of stream ciphers. eSTREAM is now in Phase 3, the final evaluation phase, and there are a number of promising candidates.

Personally, I like Salsa20. I benchmarked Salsa20 as encrypting over 100 MB per second on a lowly 1.5 GHz G4 PPC mini Mac. ...128-bit encryption strength, memory resident data (no I/O), and before Python's GC kicked in. This is more than 3x faster than AES-128 on the same machine. Others I like are Sosemanuk and Phelix, but Phelix didn't advance to Phase 3. Ugh. Well, two out of three isn't bad.

The core routines are written in C so I wrote ctypes wrappers to access Salsa20, Sosemanuk, Phelix and others. I'm making that code available, free for any use.


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