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C Tutorial - XOR Encryption

encryption

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#1 ShadenSmith

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 06:48 AM

First of all, XOR encryption alone is very easy to create and can be easily broken (especially if a weak key is used). This tutorial assumes no responsibility for the quality of encryption.

Now, the first thing to now about XOR encryption is what exactly an XOR operation is. XOR stands for exclusive-or, it is a logical operand. XOR returns true if one and only one of the two arguments is true. A few examples:

1 xor 0 = 1
0 xor 1 = 1
1 xor 1 = 0
0 xor 0 = 0

Notice that if you were to xor the result against the key you will end up with the original value. This is how decrypting XOR encryption works. XOR is a symmetrical operation, so if you encrypt a file and then encrypt it again with the same key you will receive the original plaintext.

Now the XOR encryption uses this operand to cycle through each bit of plaintext and XOR's it against a key. The longer and more random a key is, the stronger the encryption.

The algorithm itself is the focus of this tutorial. The remainder of the program (I/O, etc) will be posted at the bottom but not explained outside of comments.

void encrypt_data(FILE* input_file, FILE* output_file, char* key)
{
	int key_count = 0; //Used to restart key if strlen(key) < strlen(encrypt)
	int encrypt_byte;

	//Loop through each byte of file until EOF
	while( (encrypt_byte = fgetc(input_file)) != EOF) 
	{
		//XOR the data and write it to a file
		fputc(encrypt_byte ^ key[key_count], output_file);

		//Increment key_count and start over if necessary
		key_count++;
		if(key_count == strlen(key))
			key_count = 0;
	}
}

In C (and many other languages) the ^ is the character that represents XOR.

encrypt_data() takes an input and output file and a key to encrypt with. fgetc() returns the next character from the input stream (our file). We XOR the current character of the file against the corresponding index of key. We then use fputc (it places the given character into an output stream) to place the XOR'ed data into out output file. Finally, we loop key to the index of 0 if we have reached the end of key.

Again, your encryption is only as strong as your key. I would not recommend this for any serious encryption (there are MANY MANY better methods of encryption). I have written this purely as a learning resource and an introduction to cryptography. Below is the source code in whole:

//XOR Encryption

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>

#define MAX_SIZE 256

void strip_newline(char* to_strip);
void encrypt_data(FILE* input_file, FILE* output_file, char *key);

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
{
	//Check for valid number of arguments
	if (argc != 3)
	{
		printf("Invalid number of arguments. %d arguments were supplied.\n", argc);
		printf("Usage: %s inputfile outputfile\n", argv[0]); //Usage: ./xortest inputfile outputfile
		exit(0);
	}
	
	FILE* input;
	FILE* output;

	//Open input and output files
	input = fopen(argv[1], "r");
	output = fopen(argv[2], "w");
		

	//Check input file
	if (input == NULL)
	{
		printf("Input file cannot be read.\n");
		exit(0);
	}
		
	//Check output file
	if (output == NULL)
	{
		printf("Output file cannot be written to.\n");
		exit(0);
	}

	//Key strings
	char *key = malloc(MAX_SIZE);

	//Prompt for key
	printf("Passphrase: ");

	//Read in key
	fgets(key, MAX_SIZE, stdin);

	printf("Encrypting %s\n", argv[1]);

	//strip newlines
	strip_newline(key);

	//XOR data and write it to file
	encrypt_data(input, output, key);
	
	printf("Encrypted data written to %s\n", argv[2]);

	//Release memory
	free(key);

	//Close files
	fclose(input);
	fclose(output);

	return 0;

}


void encrypt_data(FILE* input_file, FILE* output_file, char* key)
{
	int key_count = 0; //Used to restart key if strlen(key) < strlen(encrypt)
	int encrypt_byte;
	
	while( (encrypt_byte = fgetc(input_file)) != EOF) //Loop through each byte of file until EOF
	{
		//XOR the data and write it to a file
		fputc(encrypt_byte ^ key[key_count], output_file);

		//Increment key_count and start over if necessary
		key_count++;
		if(key_count == strlen(key))
			key_count = 0;
	}
}

void strip_newline(char* to_strip)
{
	//remove newlines
	if (to_strip[strlen(to_strip) - 1] == '\n')
	{
		to_strip[strlen(to_strip) - 1] = '\0';
	}
}

I hope you found this tutorial useful!

Edited by ShadenSmith, 29 June 2009 - 08:54 AM.

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#2 WingedPanther

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 07:44 AM

Very nice. I think it's worth pointing out that to decrypt your data, you simply "encrypt" the encrypted file with the same key.
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#3 ShadenSmith

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 08:52 AM

Yes, that's a very important point that I forgot to mention. I'll fix that now. Thanks.
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#4 Guest_Jordan_*

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 08:54 AM

Very nice! +rep
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#5 ShadenSmith

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 09:04 AM

Thanks Jordan! Codecall is really a great community. I'd like to contribute as much as I can to it.
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#6 WIREDTECH

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 07:34 AM

Can someone help me understand how to XOR this..what is the process? I have the results but I need to know how to get there:

L1: 941FEA4F2B9E7D41 # Mkey Left part 1
L2: C5A2AD40F2A8B733 # Mkey Left part 2

X1: 51BD470FD936CA72 # XOR L1 & L2

Thank you!
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#7 WingedPanther

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 08:19 AM

Convert them to binary, XOR the binary representation, convert back to hexadecimal.
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#8 dcs

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 08:24 PM

input = fopen(argv[1], [COLOR="Red"]"r"[/COLOR]);
	output = fopen(argv[2], [COLOR="Red"]"w"[/COLOR]);
Wouldn't you want to open the files in binary mode to avoid the possibility of text mode translation of bytes?
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#9 lthreed

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 07:13 PM

What you've described is essentially a one-time pad. And with this the only weak key is one of all 0's
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