BDES(1) BSD General Commands Manual BDES(1)NAMEbdes — encrypt/decrypt using the Data Encryption Standard (DES)
SYNOPSISbdes [-abdp] [-F N] [-f N] [-k key] [-m N] [-o N] [-v vector]
The bdes utility implements all DES modes of operation described in FIPS
PUB 81, including alternative cipher feedback mode and both authentica‐
tion modes. The bdes utility reads from the standard input and writes to
the standard output. By default, the input is encrypted using cipher
block chaining (CBC) mode. Using the same key for encryption and decryp‐
tion preserves plain text.
All modes but the electronic code book (ECB) mode require an initializa‐
tion 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
getpass(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 ECB mode.
-d Decrypt the input.
-F N Use N-bit alternative CFB mode. Currently N must be a multiple
of 7 between 7 and 56 inclusive (this does not conform to the
alternative CFB mode specification).
-f N Use N-bit CFB mode. Currently N must be a multiple of 8 between
8 and 64 inclusive (this does not conform to the standard CFB
-k key Use key as the cryptographic key.
-m N 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 output.
MACs are only available in CBC mode or in CFB mode.
-o N Use N-bit ouput feedback (OFB) mode. Currently N must be a mul‐
tiple 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.
Set the initialization vector to vector; the vector is inter‐
preted in the same way as the key. The vector is ignored in ECB
The key and initialization vector are taken as sequences of ASCII charac‐
ters which are then mapped into their bit representations. If either
begins with “0X” or “0x”, that one is taken as a sequence of hexadecimal
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 pat‐
tern. In either case, only the leading 64 bits of the key or initializa‐
tion vector are used, and if fewer than 64 bits are provided, 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 2^56 to 2^48 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
For implementors wishing to write software compatible with this program,
the following notes are provided. This software is believed to be com‐
patible with the implementation of the data encryption standard distrib‐
uted 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 corrupted or an incor‐
rect 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 contains 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
Unlike Sun's implementation, unused bytes of that last block are not
filled with random data, but instead contain what was in those byte posi‐
tions 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 implemen‐
tation, 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.
Data Encryption Standard, Federal Information Processing Standard #46,
National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington DC,
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
Publishing 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, April 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 display
programs' arguments may compromise the key and initialization vector, if
they are specified on the command line. To avoid this bdes overwrites
its arguments, however, the obvious race cannot currently be avoided.
Certain specific keys should be avoided because they introduce potential
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
Cryptology - Crypto '86 Proceedings, pp. 9-32, Springer-Verlag New York,
BSD June 29, 1993 BSD