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The new standard, called the Rijndael algorithm, was developed by two Belgian cryptographers, Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen. It will be renamed the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), and will replace one first adopted by the US government in 1977.
"Now it's an official standard," said Philip Bulman, an official at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a unit of the US Commerce Department. While there is no deadline for the government to switch over to AES, Bulman expects "federal agencies will start migrating" to the new algorithm shortly. In addition, it's likely that many companies in the private sector, particularly in financial services, will consider adopting AES as well, he said.
US government officials said that they chose Rijndael for their next-generation encryption standard because of its "combination of security, performance, efficiency, ease of implementation and flexibility." Rijndael performed well on a variety of hardware and software platforms, they concluded. It uses relatively small amounts of memory, and it provides strong defence against several kinds of attack.