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Stream Cyptography

 

There are 2 main types of cryptography, represented by block encoders and stream encoders.

 

Block encoders, like AES, are designed to work with fixed-size data blocks, for example of 256 bytes size.

Stream encoders, on the other side, are designed to encode continuous byte streams, without limit of  block size.

 

Formers are usually used for media encryption (as disk sectors, for example) or other kinds of data which structure is represented by fixed size of data chunks; latter are better suited for contiuous data streams, for example audio and video streams, or variable-sized data like disk files.

 

Stream encoders can, of course, be used for block encoding, but they're usually less efficient and believed less secure than block encoders; using block encoders for streaming data is also possible, but with the caveat of having to wait for complete data blocks before proceeding or to pad partial data blocks with some (usually null) dummy data.

 

Another differentiation between encoders is given by symmetric and asymmetric ones.

Without going too deep inside matter, the main difference between both is that symmetric encoders use the same key for encoding and decoding, while asymmetric encoders don't.

 

Here we present 2 Symmetric Stream encoders, one slightly faster but by far less secure RC4, and the other slightly slower but giving very strong encoding, Snow2.

As the only advantage or RC4 over Snow2 is the smaller code footprint and a (really small) speed advantage, we suggest Snow2 usage on all case where security is the main need; RC4 is, for example, used for WEP wireless encryption which is known to be broken with ease.

Last edit by micio on 09/29/2010. Do you want to contribute?. T++