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The Twofish algorithm
Designers Bruce Schneier
First published 1998
Derived from Blowfish, SAFER, Square
Related to Threefish
Certification AES finalist
Cipher detail
Key sizes 128, 192 or 256 bits
Block sizes 128 bits
Structure Feistel network
Rounds 16
Best public cryptanalysis

Truncated differential cryptanalysis requiring roughly 251 chosen plaintexts.[1]

Impossible differential attack that breaks 6 rounds out of 16 of the 256-bit key version using 2256 steps.[2]

In cryptography, Twofish is a symmetric key block cipher with a block size of 128 bits and key sizes up to 256 bits. It was one of the five finalists of the Advanced Encryption Standard contest, but it was not selected for standardization. Twofish is related to the earlier block cipher Blowfish.

Twofish's distinctive features are the use of pre-computed key-dependent S-boxes, and a relatively complex key schedule. One half of an n-bit key is used as the actual encryption key and the other half of the n-bit key is used to modify the encryption algorithm (key-dependent S-boxes). Twofish borrows some elements from other designs; for example, the pseudo-Hadamard transform[3] (PHT) from the SAFER family of ciphers. Twofish has a Feistel structure like DES. Twofish also employs a Maximum Distance Separable matrix.

Back in 2000, on most software platforms Twofish was slightly slower than Rijndael (the chosen algorithm for Advanced Encryption Standard) for 128-bit keys, but somewhat faster for 256-bit keys. But after Rijndael was chosen as the Advanced Encryption Standard, Twofish has become much slower than Rijndael on the CPUs that support the AES instruction set.[4]

Twofish was designed by Bruce Schneier, John Kelsey, Doug Whiting, David Wagner, Chris Hall, and Niels Ferguson; the "extended Twofish team" who met to perform further cryptanalysis of Twofish and other AES contest entrants included Stefan Lucks, Tadayoshi Kohno, and Mike Stay.

The Twofish cipher has not been patented and the reference implementation has been placed in the public domain. As a result, the Twofish algorithm is free for anyone to use without any restrictions whatsoever. It is one of a few ciphers included in the OpenPGP standard (RFC 4880). However, Twofish has seen less widespread usage than Blowfish, which has been available longer.


In 1999, Niels Ferguson published an impossible differential attack that breaks six rounds out of 16 of the 256-bit key version using 2256 steps.[2]

As of 2000, the best published cryptanalysis on the Twofish block cipher is a truncated differential cryptanalysis of the full 16-round version. The paper claims that the probability of truncated differentials is 2−57.3 per block and that it will take roughly 251 chosen plaintexts (32 petabytes worth of data) to find a good pair of truncated differentials.[1]

Bruce Schneier responds in a 2005 blog entry that this paper does not present a full cryptanalytic attack, but only some hypothesized differential characteristics: "But even from a theoretical perspective, Twofish isn't even remotely broken. There have been no extensions to these results since they were published in 2000."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Shiho Moriai; Yiqun Lisa Yin (2000). "Cryptanalysis of Twofish (II)" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  2. ^ a b Niels Ferguson (1999-10-05). "Impossible differentials in Twofish" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  3. ^ (PDF)  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Bruce Schneier; Doug Whiting (2000-04-07). "A Performance Comparison of the Five AES Finalists" (PDF/PostScript). Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  5. ^ Schneier, Bruce (2005-11-23). "Twofish Cryptanalysis Rumors". Schneier on Security blog. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 


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