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ECB Mode in Cryptography

What is Electronic Code Book (ECB)?

Electronic Code Book (ECB) is a simple type of operational technique associated with a block cipher and performs symmetric key encryption. It is also a technique for processing the series of the listed message block. 

In the beginning, the plain text is broken into numeric code. Then these numeric codes are converted to cipher text using the encryption key. After that each encrypted text is converted back to the decrypted text using that encryption key. Also, we can use a separate encryption key to decode all the blocks. 

In Electronic Code Book (ECB), each plain text has a cipher text value and vice versa. So, the plain text has the same cipher key and undergoes the encryption process. That means if we have a plain text P1 and P2 having the same encryption key, then the cipher text block always gives the same output.

We also say that plain text having the same cipher key always gives the same output.

For all the possible plain text, the encryption details always choose their corresponding cipher details. If there is an error comes, then it affects both the encryption and decryption process. The chaining dependency and reordering of cipher text do not affect the encryption process. 

Data Encryption Standard vs Electronic Code Book

The Data Encryption Standard (DES) was developed by IBM in the year of 1970. Data Encryption Standard (DES) provides five modes of encryption technique. Electronic Code Book (ECB) is one of them and the other mode of encryption techniques are Cipher Block Chaining (CBC), Cipher Feedback (CFB), Output Feedback (OFB) and the original mode of Data Encryption Standard (DES). Later a fifth mode was added to IBM. The fifth one is the counter mode. These different modes are known for their design principle. Once an encryption error or initialization vector is used, these are rectified by the appropriate mode of Data Encryption Standard (DES). Out of these five DES modes, Electronic Code Book (ECB) is more simple and easy to use. With the help of an Electronic Code Book (ECB), anyone can easily derive the cipher key and encrypt and decrypt the data.

Advantages of Using ECB

There is some benefit to using Electronic Code Book (ECB). These are as follows.

  1. In Electronic Code Book (ECB), parallel encryption is possible. This is the very fastest way for encryption.
  2. It is elementary to use.

What are the drawbacks of Electronic Code Books?

There are some significant drawbacks to Electronic Code Book (ECB). These are as follows.

  1. Except for initialization vector or chaining, Electronic Code Book (ECB) use a simple substitution method for the encryption and decryption of data. This quality makes it very easy to use Electronic Code Book (ECB). But this is the major drawback of Electronic Code Book (ECB). Two identical plain texts give the exact cipher text, which provides fragile security in cryptography. 
  2. An electronic Code Book (ECB) is not used when the block size is less than 40 bits. In the small size of blocks, there is possible to reuse some phrases or words. That means it is possible that the plain text and cipher text may be identical in nature. When the plain text and cipher text is similar, it is very easy to encrypt and decrypt our data from hackers. 
  3. In another way case, if the blocks are independent or free, it becomes possible or feasible to replace or change some blocks of the ciphertext without knowledge of a cryptography key. The malefactor can change the part of blocks in the message with blocks intercepted during the previous transmission on the same cryptography key. 
  4. In fact case of drop or insertion of at least one bit into ciphertext, there will be a shift or replacement of bits and borders of blocks that will lead to wrong or incorrect decoding or decrypting of all subsequent blocks ciphertext in cryptography (it can be fixed or mixed by the realization of control or work methods of borders of ciphertext blocks in the cryptography).

Security Challenges

The ECB mode is relatively simple in realization for cryptography. It is possible or feasible to encrypt/decrypt the blocks of data or characters in parallel as there is no dependence between blocks of the plaintext or original text. In case of failure or failure of the encryption/decryption in the cryptography, the mistake extends only within one block and doesn't influence others.