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Template:Infobox block cipher

In cryptography, RC2 is a block cipher designed by Ron Rivest in 1987. "RC" stands for "Ron's Code" or "Rivest Cipher"; other ciphers designed by Rivest include RC4, RC5 and RC6.

The development of RC2 was sponsored by Lotus, who were seeking a custom cipher that, after evaluation by the NSA, could be exported as part of their Lotus Notes software. The NSA suggested a couple of changes, which Rivest incorporated. After further negotiations, the cipher was approved for export in 1989. Along with RC4, RC2 with a 40-bit key size was treated favourably under US export regulations for cryptography.

Initially, the details of the algorithm were kept secret — proprietary to RSA Security — but on 29th January, 1996, source code for RC2 was anonymously posted to the Internet on the Usenet forum, sci.crypt. A similar disclosure had occurred earlier with RC4. It is unclear whether the poster had access to the specifications or whether it had been reverse engineered.

RC2 is a 64-bit block cipher with a variable size key. Its 18 rounds are arranged as a source-heavy Feistel network, with 16 rounds of one type (MIXING) punctuated by two rounds of another type (MASHING). A MIXING round consists of four applications of the MIX transformation, as shown in the diagram.

RC2 is vulnerable to a related-key attack using 234 chosen plaintexts (Kelsey et al., 1997).


  • Steven Levy, Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government — Saving Privacy in the Digital Age, ISBN 0-14-024432-8, 2001.


  • Lars R. Knudsen, Vincent Rijmen, Ronald L. Rivest, Matthew J. B. Robshaw: On the Design and Security of RC2. Fast Software Encryption 1998: 206–221
  • John Kelsey, Bruce Schneier, David Wagner: Related-key cryptanalysis of 3-WAY, Biham-DES, CAST, DES-X, NewDES, RC2, and TEA. ICICS 1997: 233–246

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