# [Cryptography] How can you enter a 256-bit key in 12 decimal digits?

Jerry Leichter leichter at lrw.com
Sun Jan 3 20:57:25 EST 2016

```> > If someone can get at your data by brute forcing a key in a 40-
> > bit key space, why is it legal to call this 256-bit encryption?
>
> Because no one has taken them to court for fraud and won or gotten a settlement.
And it's unlikely anyone ever will.  The encryption has a 256-bit key, exactly as claimed.  The fact that there's no way to enter more than a tiny fraction of all possible keys is almost certain to be seen as a separate issue.

V-rated tires are good for a maximum speed of 149 mph and the rating doesn't change if the car they are mounted can make it to 100 mph, on a good day, going downhill with a strong wind at its back.

More to the point, a common Master combination lock has 36 numbers on the face and the combination is 3 positions long.  But in fact the is so much slop in the mechanism that "off by 1" usually works.  So instead of 36^3 combinations, there are really 12^3.  Fraud?

The legal system is good for many things, but this kind of fine-grained analysis of a technical issue ... isn't one of them.  Better to rely on education and informed consumers....
-- Jerry

```