WHAT IS MILITARY GRADE ENCRYPTION?
The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher chosen by the U.S. government to protect classified information and is implemented in software and hardware throughout the world to encrypt sensitive data. The algorithm was developed by two Belgian cryptographer Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen.
AES was designed to be efficient in both hardware and software, and supports a block length of 128 bits and key lengths of 128, 192, and 256 bits.
WHY AES ENCRYPTION WAS DEVELOPED?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology started development of AES in 1997 when it announced the need for a successor algorithm for the Data Encryption Standard (DES), which was starting to become vulnerable to brute-force attacks.
This new, advanced encryption algorithm would be unclassified and had to be “capable of protecting sensitive government information well into the next century,” according to the NIST announcement of the process for development of an advanced encryption standard algorithm. It was intended to be easy to implement in hardware and software, as well as in restricted environments and offer good defenses against various attack techniques.
AES ENCRYPTION BECOMES THE STANDARD
After much feedback, debate and analysis, the Rijndael cipher (a mash of the Belgian creators’ last names Daemen and Rijmen) was selected as the proposed algorithm for AES in October 2000 and published by NIST as U.S. FIPS PUB 197. The Advanced Encryption Standard became effective as a federal government standard in 2002. It is also included in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 18033-3 standard, which specifies block ciphers for the purpose of data confidentiality.
In June 2003, the U.S. government announced that AES could be used to protect classified information, and it soon became the default encryption algorithm for protecting classified information as well as the first publicly accessible and open cipher approved by the NSA for top-secret information. The NSA chose AES as one of the cryptographic algorithms to be used by its Information Assurance Directorate to protect national security systems.