In 1998 the EFF built Deep Crack for less than $250,000. In response to DES Challenge II-2, on July 17, 1998, Deep Crack decrypted a DES-encrypted message after only 56 hours of work, winning $10,000. This was the final blow to DES, against which there were already some published cryptanalytic attacks. The brute force attack showed that cracking DES was actually a very practical proposition. For well-endowed governments or corporations, building a machine like Deep Crack would be no problem.
Six months later, in response to RSA Security's DES Challenge III, in collaboration with distributed.net, the EFF used Deep Crack to decrypt another DES-encrypted message, winning another $10,000. This time, the operation took less than a day — 22 hours and 15 minutes. The decryption was completed on January 19, 1999. In October of that year, DES was reaffirmed as a federal standard, but this time the standard recommended Triple DES (also referred to as 3DES or TDES).
Deep Crack was designed by Cryptography Research, Inc.; Advanced Wireless Technologies and the EFF. The principal designer was Paul Kocher, president of Cryptography Research. Advanced Wireless Technologies built 1856 custom ASIC DES chips (called Deep Crack or AWT-4500), housed on 29 circuit boards of 64 chips each. The boards are then fitted in six cabinets. The search is coordinated by a single PC which assigns ranges of keys to the chips. The entire machine was capable of testing over 90 billion keys per second. It would take about 9 days to test every possible key at that rate. On average, the correct key would be found in half that time.
In 2006, another Custom hardware attack machine was designed based on FPGAs. COPACOBANA (COst-optimized PArallel COdeBreaker) shows a similar performance as Deep Crack at considerable lower cost. This advantage is mainly due to progress in IC technology.