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Belgians win US encryption standard contest

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An encryption algorithm developed by a pair of Belgian researchers is almost certain to be confirmed as the new US security standard.

Called Rijndael, and pronounced "Rhine-Doll" the algorithm is the successor to the Data Encryption Standard that was introduced in 1977.

The algorithm is the winner of the US National Institute of Science and Technology Advanced Encryption Standard contest. The contest has been running for three years and was set up to find a replacement standard for the current US benchmark.

Having won the contest, it is looking pretty good for the algorithm's future as the new US security standard. Provided no-one else comes up with anything better in-house, so to speak.

The Belgium cryptographers are Joam Daemon of Proton World International and Vincent Rijmen of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. The pair's work was chosen because it showed the best combination of security, performance, efficiency, ease of implementation and flexibility, the institute said.

The US Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta commented: "This is a very significant step toward creating a more secure digital economy. It will allow e-commerce and e-government to flourish safely, creating new opportunities for all Americans."

Chipzilla added it's two-pennies-worth to the general murmur of comment surrounding the competition, calling it a model of industry and academic co-operation. The chief security architect at Intel, David Aucsmith got a little carried away in his enthusiasm as he gushed: "In all of my experience in the generation of standards, there has never been a more equitable, judicious and timely process."

And the standard US paranoia about foreigners was not a problem in this instance. The complete algorithm and design rationale had been made available to the NSA for the past two years. ®

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