I have recently written an implementation of Serpent and was testing it against known vectors to no avail. Using 256-bit key, I compared my encryption to the test vectors located here:


For some reason, I match none of these test vectors, and I do not know why. I downloaded the Python implementation found here:


The Python implementation agreed with me and disagreed with the published test vectors. I did, however, find two files in folder Floppy 4 (ecb_tbl.txt) and (ecb_iv.txt) from the full submission package (http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/serpent.tar.gz) which I completely agree with. If I put in the given 256-bit key and the given plaintexts, I do achieve the correct encrypted ciphertexts.

Are the test vectors published on biham's website incorrect, or is there perhaps something I am missing? If they are wrong, why are they still up and way easier to find than the ones I matched with?

As an example, on Biham's site,

key=8000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 plain=00000000000000000000000000000000

But both my implementation and the Python reference implementation give:


I think it has something to do with this NESSIE format, but so far, I have been unable to determine if that is true and what exactly that means.

  • $\begingroup$ According to this, there are two versions of Serpent. It seems that your test vectors are for Serpent-1, and it could be that your code is for Serpent-0. The changes are in the key schedule, so that would explain why you get correct results for the all-zero key, but not others. I do not make it an answer, because I'm far from sure. $\endgroup$ – fgrieu Jul 21 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the feedback on this, but I already considered it. My code is not for Serpent-0. I checked this by using the original Python implementation of Serpent-0 and found it gives completely different ciphertext than the Serpent-1 reference, which I am checking my implementation against. The Serpent-0 ciphertext does not match any of the available test vectors I have found, even the ones I noted that I match above using my implementation. $\endgroup$ – toothandsticks Jul 21 at 21:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ probable duplicate of crypto.stackexchange.com/questions/20306/… $\endgroup$ – Richie Frame Jul 23 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ Does above link answer your question, and if it doesn't, can you please indicate what's missing from the answer? I read everything in full, and it does seem to come down to the same thing. $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Jul 25 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, it kind of does. Why the heck does NESSIE have a flipped byte order? I ran the key 0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000080 (flipped byte order) and got the ciphertext above but also in flipped byte order. $\endgroup$ – toothandsticks Jul 26 at 21:01

Thanks to Richie Frame pointing out this is basically a duplicate of question

Bouncy jdk 1.51 Serpent KAT tests vs Nessie vectors

I discovered the NESSIE writes their key, plaintext, and ciphertext test vectors for Serpent in reversed byte-order (but it's not little endian inside the bytes). So, on Biham's site, https://www.cs.technion.ac.il/~biham/Reports/Serpent/Serpent-256-128.verified.test-vectors , the first test vector,

key=8000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 plain=00000000000000000000000000000000

only works if I use my implementation in reverse byte order; that is, I have to input the key:0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000080,

and I get the above ciphertext in reverse byte order:

cipher: c0165682bd8ee32b0e3c468812aa23a2

Verifying this with set 3, vector 130:

key= 8282828282828282828282828282828282828282828282828282828282828282
plaintext = 82828282828282828282828282828282
ciphertext= AAA92B00896FE228BDF5AA3BA534CA44

Since the key and plaintext are reversible by byte order, I can put this key and plaintext in and expect the ciphertext in reverse byte order. My implementation yields:


This checks out!

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