EFF - Electronic Frontier Foundation - built a DES cracker for a budget of 250K$ in July 1998. I assume that as of 2015 - the cost of such a DES breaker would be less, are there any estimations about how it would cost? Re-using their 1998 design.

  • $\begingroup$ And how much would it cost to break it on AWS or a similar cloud service? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ Check out CloudCracker. It was a cloud service to break DES in the cloud. That's roughly 2 years ago, and it seems they are not online any more. Still worth reading the news about it. $\endgroup$
    – tylo
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 12:02

1 Answer 1


Re-using their design might be no good idea - there are cheaper designs for sure. This new DES cracker would just need to try every possible key - like the one of the EFF already did.

DES was a big standard for encryption, so some people did build such machines, right? Of course did they: COPACOBANA is able to break DES in under 9 days and costs under 10,000 US $ - That was 2006. You could even run a few of them parallel and crack algorithms like DES even faster - or you just use RIVYERA and crack DES in 1 day. You can use more than one machine of them, too.

More informations about the DES cracker and the mechanic behind it can be found in this document.

I'm pretty sure there are even better methods as of 2015.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for RIVYERA, which previously had not blipped on my radar. $\endgroup$
    – fgrieu
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ With a less than fully populated RIVYERA to hit 56 hours for half the key space, plus Non-Recurring Engineering costs you'd likely still be under $10K. Some of us might literally spend more time dealing with the RIVYERA API than the DES algorithm. It looks like under a man month for the properly skilled implementer with the Xilinx tools. (John Gilmore asked if I was interested in doing a DES Cracker ASIC in 1991, the barrier at the time the NRE costs for a silicon vendor). $\endgroup$
    – user1430
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ my best guess for 2015 would be $100 $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ I'm wondering how it could cost to break DES on a massivelly parallel computer like Blue Waters, which claims that it could perform 13 quadrillion calculations per seconds. (Remmember the funny but original idea of J.J. Quisquater and Y. Desmedt about the chinese lottery). A quick simulation shows that Blue Waters could break DES in 1000 sec which represents 15 mn. Nowadays, "anyone" could rent the usage of cloud computing like As a Platform as a Service. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ I also would like to mention this interesting 2003-paper tools.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3607.txt which propose simulation of using the internet as a code breaking tool. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 9:21

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