bdes man page on 4.4BSD
bdes - encrypt/decrypt using the Data Encryption Standard
bdes [ -abdp ] [ -F N ] [ -f N ] [ -k key ]
[ -m N ] [ -o N ] [ -v vector ]
Bdes implements all DES modes of operation described in FIPS PUB 81,
including alternative cipher feedback mode and both authentication
modes. Bdes reads from the standard input and writes to the standard
output. By default, the input is encrypted using cipher block chaining
mode. Using the same key for encryption and decryption preserves plain
All modes but the electronic code book mode require an initialization
vector; if none is supplied, the zero vector is used. If no key is
specified on the command line, the user is prompted for one (see get‐
pass(3) for more details).
The options are as follows:
-a The key and initialization vector strings are to be taken as
ASCII, suppressing the special interpretation given to leading
``0X'', ``0x'', ``0B'', and ``0b'' characters. This flag
applies to both the key and initialization vector.
-b Use electronic code book mode.
-d Decrypt the input.
-F Use N-bit alternative cipher feedback mode. Currently N must be
a multiple of 7 between 7 and 56 inclusive (this does not con‐
form to the alternative CFB mode specification).
-f Use N-bit cipher feedback mode. Currently N must be a multiple
of 8 between 8 and 64 inclusive (this does not conform to the
standard CFB mode specification).
-k Use key as the cryptographic key.
-m Compute a message authentication code (MAC) of N bits on the
input. The value of N must be between 1 and 64 inclusive; if N
is not a multiple of 8, enough 0 bits will be added to pad the
MAC length to the nearest multiple of 8. Only the MAC is out‐
put. MACs are only available in cipher block chaining mode or
in cipher feedback mode.
-o Use N-bit output feedback mode. Currently N must be a multiple
of 8 between 8 and 64 inclusive (this does not conform to the
OFB mode specification).
-p Disable the resetting of the parity bit. This flag forces the
parity bit of the key to be used as typed, rather than making
each character be of odd parity. It is used only if the key is
given in ASCII.
-v Set the initialization vector to vector; the vector is inter‐
preted in the same way as the key. The vector is ignored in
electronic codebook mode.
The key and initialization vector are taken as sequences of ASCII char‐
acters which are then mapped into their bit representations. If either
begins with ``0X'' or ``0x'', that one is taken as a sequence of hexa‐
decimal digits indicating the bit pattern; if either begins with ``0B''
or ``0b'', that one is taken as a sequence of binary digits indicating
the bit pattern. In either case, only the leading 64 bits of the key
or initialization vector are used, and if fewer than 64 bits are pro‐
vided, enough 0 bits are appended to pad the key to 64 bits.
According to the DES standard, the low-order bit of each character in
the key string is deleted. Since most ASCII representations set the
high-order bit to 0, simply deleting the low-order bit effectively
reduces the size of the key space from 256 to 248 keys. To prevent
this, the high-order bit must be a function depending in part upon the
low-order bit; so, the high-order bit is set to whatever value gives
odd parity. This preserves the key space size. Note this resetting of
the parity bit is not done if the key is given in binary or hex, and
can be disabled for ASCII keys as well.
The DES is considered a very strong cryptosystem, and other than table
lookup attacks, key search attacks, and Hellman's time-memory tradeoff
(all of which are very expensive and time-consuming), no cryptanalytic
methods for breaking the DES are known in the open literature. No
doubt the choice of keys and key security are the most vulnerable
aspect of bdes.
For implementors wishing to write software compatible with this pro‐
gram, the following notes are provided. This software is believed to
be compatible with the implementation of the data encryption standard
distributed by Sun Microsystems, Inc.
In the ECB and CBC modes, plaintext is encrypted in units of 64 bits (8
bytes, also called a block). To ensure that the plaintext file is
encrypted correctly, bdes will (internally) append from 1 to 8 bytes,
the last byte containing an integer stating how many bytes of that
final block are from the plaintext file, and encrypt the resulting
block. Hence, when decrypting, the last block may contain from 0 to 7
characters present in the plaintext file, and the last byte tells how
many. Note that if during decryption the last byte of the file does
not contain an integer between 0 and 7, either the file has been cor‐
rupted or an incorrect key has been given. A similar mechanism is used
for the OFB and CFB modes, except that those simply require the length
of the input to be a multiple of the mode size, and the final byte con‐
tains an integer between 0 and one less than the number of bytes being
used as the mode. (This was another reason that the mode size must be
a multiple of 8 for those modes.)
Unlike Sun's implementation, unused bytes of that last block are not
filled with random data, but instead contain what was in those byte
positions in the preceding block. This is quicker and more portable,
and does not weaken the encryption significantly.
If the key is entered in ASCII, the parity bits of the key characters
are set so that each key character is of odd parity. Unlike Sun's
implementation, it is possible to enter binary or hexadecimal keys on
the command line, and if this is done, the parity bits are not reset.
This allows testing using arbitrary bit patterns as keys.
The Sun implementation always uses an initialization vector of 0 (that
is, all zeroes). By default, bdes does too, but this may be changed
from the command line.
crypt(1), crypt(3), getpass(3)
Data Encryption Standard, Federal Information Processing Standard #46,
National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington
DC (Jan. 1977)
DES Modes of Operation, Federal Information Processing Standard #81,
National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce Washington DC
Dorothy Denning, Cryptography and Data Security, Addison-Wesley Pub‐
lishing Co., Reading, MA ©1982.
Matt Bishop, Implementation Notes on bdes(1), Technical Report PCS-
TR-91-158, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Dartmouth
College, Hanover, NH 03755 (Apr. 1991).
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE REGENTS AND CONTRIBUTORS ``AS IS'' AND
ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE
IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE
ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE REGENTS OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE
FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL
DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS
OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION)
HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT
LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY
OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF
There is a controversy raging over whether the DES will still be secure
in a few years. The advent of special-purpose hardware could reduce
the cost of any of the methods of attack named above so that they are
no longer computationally infeasible.
As the key or key schedule is stored in memory, the encryption can be
compromised if memory is readable. Additionally, programs which dis‐
play programs' arguments may compromise the key and initialization vec‐
tor, if they are specified on the command line. To avoid this bdes
overwrites its arguments, however, the obvious race cannot currently be
Certain specific keys should be avoided because they introduce poten‐
tial weaknesses; these keys, called the weak and semiweak keys, are (in
hex notation, where p is either 0 or 1, and P is either e or f):
This is inherent in the DES algorithm (see Moore and Simmons, Cycle
structure of the DES with weak and semi-weak keys, Advances in Cryptol‐
ogy - Crypto '86 Proceedings , Springer-Verlag New York, ©1987, pp.
4.3 Berkeley Distribution June 29, 1993 BDES(1)
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