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Stream Ciphers

A block cipher performs mathematical functions on blocks of bits. A stream cipher does not divide a message into blocks; instead, a stream cipher treats the message as a stream of bits and performs mathematical functions on each bit individually.

When using a stream cipher, a plaintext bit will be transformed into a different ciphertext bit each time it is encrypted. Stream ciphers use keystream generators, which produces a stream of bits that is XORed with the plaintext bits to produce ciphertext.

Stream ciphers require a lot of randomness and encrypt individual bits at a time. This requires more processing power than block ciphers require, which is why stream ciphers are better suited to be implemented at the hardware level. Because block ciphers do not require as much processing power, they can be easily implemented at the software level.