CRYPT(3) BSD Library Functions Manual CRYPT(3)
crypt, setkey, encrypt, des_setkey, des_cipher -- password encryption
Crypt Library (libcrypt, -lcrypt)
crypt(const char *key, const char *setting);
encrypt(char *block, int flag);
des_setkey(const char *key);
des_cipher(const char *in, char *out, long salt, int count);
setkey(const char *key);
The crypt() function performs password encryption. The encryption scheme used by crypt() is
dependent upon the contents of the NUL-terminated string setting. If it begins with a
string character ('$') and a number then a different algorithm is used depending on the num-
ber. At the moment a '$1' chooses MD5 hashing and a '$2' chooses Blowfish hashing; see
below for more information. If setting begins with the ``_'' character, DES encryption with
a user specified number of perturbations is selected. If setting begins with any other
character, DES encryption with a fixed number of perturbations is selected.
The DES encryption scheme is derived from the NBS Data Encryption Standard. Additional code
has been added to deter key search attempts and to use stronger hashing algorithms. In the
DES case, the second argument to crypt() is a character array, 9 bytes in length, consisting
of an underscore (``_'') followed by 4 bytes of iteration count and 4 bytes of salt. Both
the iteration count and the salt are encoded with 6 bits per character, least significant
bits first. The values 0 to 63 are encoded by the characters ``./0-9A-Za-z'', respectively.
The salt is used to induce disorder in to the DES algorithm in one of 16777216 possible ways
(specifically, if bit i of the salt is set then bits i and i+24 are swapped in the DES ``E''
box output). The key is divided into groups of 8 characters (a short final group is null-
padded) and the low-order 7 bits of each character (56 bits per group) are used to form the
DES key as follows: the first group of 56 bits becomes the initial DES key. For each addi-
tional group, the XOR of the group bits and the encryption of the DES key with itself
becomes the next DES key. Then the final DES key is used to perform count cumulative
encryptions of a 64-bit constant. The value returned is a NUL-terminated string, 20 bytes
in length, consisting of the setting followed by the encoded 64-bit encryption.
For compatibility with historical versions of crypt(), the setting may consist of 2 bytes of
salt, encoded as above, in which case an iteration count of 25 is used, fewer perturbations
of DES are available, at most 8 characters of key are used, and the returned value is a
NUL-terminated string 13 bytes in length.
The functions encrypt(), setkey(), des_setkey() and des_cipher() allow limited access to the
DES algorithm itself. The key argument to setkey() is a 64 character array of binary values
(numeric 0 or 1). A 56-bit key is derived from this array by dividing the array into groups
of 8 and ignoring the last bit in each group.
The encrypt() argument block is also a 64 character array of binary values. If the value of
flag is 0, the argument block is encrypted, otherwise it is decrypted. The encryption or
decryption is returned in the original array block after using the key specified by setkey()
to process it.
The des_setkey() and des_cipher() functions are faster but less portable than setkey() and
encrypt(). The argument to des_setkey() is a character array of length 8. The least sig-
nificant bit in each character is ignored and the next 7 bits of each character are concate-
nated to yield a 56-bit key. The function des_cipher() encrypts (or decrypts if count is
negative) the 64-bits stored in the 8 characters at in using abs(3) of count iterations of
DES and stores the 64-bit result in the 8 characters at out. The salt specifies perturba-
tions to DES as described above.
For the MD5 encryption scheme, the version number (in this case ``1''), salt and the hashed
password are separated by the ``$'' character. A valid password looks like this:
The entire password string is passed as setting for interpretation.
The Blowfish version of crypt() has 128 bits of salt in order to make building dictionaries
of common passwords space consuming. The initial state of the Blowfish cipher is expanded
using the salt and the password repeating the process a variable number of rounds, which is
encoded in the password string. The maximum password length is 72. The final Blowfish
password entry is created by encrypting the string
with the Blowfish state 64 times.
The version number, the logarithm of the number of rounds and the concatenation of salt and
hashed password are separated by the '$' character. An encoded '8' would specify 256
rounds. A valid Blowfish password looks like this:
The whole Blowfish password string is passed as setting for interpretation.
The function crypt() returns a pointer to the encrypted value on success.
The behavior of crypt() on errors isn't well standardized. Some implementations simply
can't fail (unless the process dies, in which case they obviously can't return), others
return NULL or a fixed string. Most implementations don't set errno, but some do.
Version 2 of the Single UNIX Specification (``SUSv2'') specifies only returning NULL and
setting errno as a valid behavior, and defines only one possible error (ENOSYS, ``The
functionality is not supported on this implementation.'') Unfortunately, most existing
applications aren't prepared to handle NULL returns from crypt(). The description below
corresponds to this implementation of crypt() only. The behavior may change to match stan-
dards, other implementations or existing applications.
crypt() may only fail (and return) when passed an invalid or unsupported setting, in which
case it returns a pointer to a magic string that is shorter than 13 characters and is guar-
anteed to differ from setting. This behavior is safe for older applications which assume
that crypt() can't fail, when both setting new passwords and authenticating against existing
The functions setkey(), encrypt(), des_setkey(), and des_cipher() return 0 on success and 1
on failure. Historically, the functions setkey() and encrypt() did not return any value.
They have been provided return values primarily to distinguish implementations where hard-
ware support is provided but not available or where the DES encryption is not available due
to the usual political silliness.
login(1), passwd(1), pwhash(1), getpass(3), md5(3), passwd(5), passwd.conf(5)
Wayne Patterson, Mathematical Cryptology for Computer Scientists and Mathematicians, ISBN
R. Morris and Ken Thompson, "Password Security: A Case History", Communications of the ACM,
vol. 22, pp. 594-597, Nov. 1979.
M.E. Hellman, "DES will be Totally Insecure within Ten Years", IEEE Spectrum, vol. 16, pp.
32-39, July 1979.
A rotor-based crypt() function appeared in Version 6 AT&T UNIX. The current style crypt()
first appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX.
Dropping the least significant bit in each character of the argument to des_setkey() is
The crypt() function leaves its result in an internal static object and returns a pointer to
that object. Subsequent calls to crypt() will modify the same object.
Before NetBSD 6 crypt() returned either NULL or : on error.
BSD January 1, 2012 BSD