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What is AES?
by kp

AES, or Advanced Encryption Standard, is a cryptography standard used for government-level security. This system is based on a 256-bit encryption using a symmetric-key algorithm. Unlike public keys, symmetric keys use keys that are only known between the sender and receiver. Public keys share one key but require another secret key to decrypt files. There are several types of symmetric encryption: DES, IDEA, CAST and AES. Keys are created using different levels of key-bit combination. A 56-bit key has up to 70,000,000,000,000,000 combinations while 128-bit encryption uses 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible combinations. The higher the bit encryption increases the complexity and difficulty to crack the code. AES was developed from the "Rijndael" algorithm model which provides better security, and efficiency for generating keys.

MSDN - Keep Your Data Secure with the New Advanced Encryption Standard
Microsoft TechNet - Encryption

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