In cryptography, Triple DES (3DES or TDES), officially the Triple Data Encryption Algorithm (TDEA or Triple DEA), is a symmetric-key block cipher, which applies the DES cipher algorithm three times to each data block.

While the government and industry standards abbreviate the algorithm’s name as TDES (Triple DES) and TDEA (Triple Data Encryption Algorithm), RFC 1851 referred to it as 3DES from the time it first promulgated the idea, and this namesake has since come into wide use by most vendors, users, and cryptographers.

The original DES cipher’s key size of 56 bits was generally sufficient when that algorithm was designed, but the availability of increasing computational power made brute-force attacks feasible. Triple DES provides a relatively simple method of increasing the key size of DES to protect against such attacks, without the need to design a completely new block cipher algorithm.