The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a specification for the encryption of electronic data established by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2001. Originally called Rijndael, the cipher was developed by two Belgian cryptographers, Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen, who submitted to the AES selection process.
AES has been adopted by the U.S. government and is now used worldwide. It supersedes the Data Encryption Standard (DES), which was published in 1977. The algorithm described by AES is a symmetric-key algorithm, meaning the same key is used for both encrypting and decrypting the data.
In the United States, AES was announced by the NIST as U.S. FIPS PUB 197 (FIPS 197) on November 26, 2001. This announcement followed a five-year standardization process in which fifteen competing designs were presented and evaluated, before the Rijndael cipher was selected as the most suitable (see Advanced Encryption Standard process for more details). It became effective as a federal government standard on May 26, 2002 after approval by the Secretary of Commerce. AES is included in the ISO/IEC 18033-3 standard. AES is available in many different encryption packages, and is the first publicly accessible and open cipher approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) for top secret information when used in an NSA approved cryptographic module (see Security of AES, below).
The name Rijndael is a play on the names of the two inventors. Strictly speaking, the AES standard is a variant of Rijndael where the block size is restricted to 128 bits.
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