Could someone explain "DEK" for me?

Janusz A. Urbanowicz alex at
Mon Oct 25 10:25:24 CEST 2004

On Mon, Oct 25, 2004 at 10:07:56AM +0200, Werner Koch wrote:
> On Mon, 25 Oct 2004 10:02:02 +0800, Zuxy  said:
> > Are both of them (DEK and session key) symmetrical encryption key?
> DEK is OpenPGP parlance and in particular the structure:
> typedef struct {
>     int algo;
>     int keylen;
>     int algo_info_printed;
>     int use_mdc;
>     byte key[32]; /* this is the largest used keylen (256 bit) */
> } DEK;
> "session key" would be fine with me.  I can't recall why I used "DEK"
> in the error message - its too long ago.

I also encountered DEK term before while reading on PEM, and possibly
Kerberos too. From my understanding the term means always trhe actual
symmetrical key the data is encrypting with as opposed to various keys and
like named entities in upper layers of given protocol. In PEM this was the
symmetrical key used for encryption of data, as opposed to symmetrical keys
being assigned to sender/recipient.

And yes, I agree that sometimes, GnuPG messages are somewhat baroque in the
language. :-)


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