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Tech Buzz 05/02

The Commerce Department updates its widely used encryption standard.

With security concerns topping the list of technology worries, any improvement in that area is good news. After more than 20 years of use, the U.S. Commerce Department has updated its widely used encryption standard. The original 1977 vintage 56-bit keys Data Encryption Standard (DES) has now been officially replaced by the new Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which supports up to 256-bit keys. Loosely translated, AES is vastly harder to crack.

Like the DES before it, AES will be widely adopted for commercial use. It won't show up in your office with a lot of fanfare, but it will be creeping into products like firewalls, network security software and new versions of Web browsers. Expect AES to be around for a while: The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates it to have at least a 20-year life span. Visit www.nist.gov for more information.

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This article was originally published in the May 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tech Buzz 05/02.

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