A group of leading cryptography experts at the RSA Conference has been discussing one of the field's earliest conflicts.
The panel recalled the Data Encryption Standard (DES) and the drama that surrounded its development in the 1970s.
Dickie George, a technical director for information assurance with the National Security Agency (NSA) who worked on the system, explained that the DES format, designed in partnership with the government and IBM, stirred up an interesting mixture of political and mathematical debate during its development.
"No-one could envision how it exploded, and we certainly didn't envision how widespread it would be," he said.
George also admitted surprise at the longevity of the standard. The military has procedures in place to formally end use of the system and usher in a replacement, but no such mechanisms were to be had in the business sector.
"You don't have that freedom in the commercial world. You say this is the end of use, and they say thank you very much for your opinion," he said.
Two of the standard's earliest critics were also on the panel. Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman, who had at one point suggested that DES may have been built with a 'trap door' to allow the NSA to easily decrypt information, said that much of the suspicion over the format came from strange results in the 56-bit key structure.
George also talked about areas on which the current NSA is focusing, noting that the agency has taken a more proactive approach to security and is actively looking for inappropriate or dangerous behaviour.
George also suggested that cryptography should be better integrated with other security tools.
"Our best tool is cryptography, and we don't know how to use it effectively, " he said. "How do we marry up the tools we have with the other IT tools that can help?"
Dust storm on Titan only the third Solar System body where such storms have been observed
New technique could enable quantum computers to scale-up to millions of qubits
Systrom and Krieger taking time off "to explore our curiosity and creativity"
Comcast's £29.7bn winning bid more than twice the £13.7bn Rupert Murdoch valued Sky at just eight years ago