Stream Ciphers

In contrast to block ciphers, stream ciphers operate on a plaintext stream instead of blocks. Thus encrypting data results in changing the internal state of the cipher and encryption of plaintext with arbitrary length is possible in one go (in byte amounts). All implemented stream ciphers derive from the base class StreamCipher (botan/stream_cipher.h).

Note that some of the implemented stream ciphers require a fresh initialisation vector.

class StreamCipher
std::string name() const

Returns a human-readable string of the name of this algorithm.

void clear()

Clear the key.

StreamCipher *clone() const

Return a newly allocated object of the same type as this one.

void set_key(const uint8_t *key, size_t length)

Set the stream cipher key. If the length is not accepted, an Invalid_Key_Length exception is thrown.

bool valid_keylength(size_t length) const

This function returns true if and only if length is a valid keylength for the algorithm.

size_t minimum_keylength() const

Return the smallest key length (in bytes) that is acceptible for the algorithm.

size_t maximum_keylength() const

Return the largest key length (in bytes) that is acceptible for the algorithm.

bool valid_iv_length(size_t iv_len) const

This function returns true if and only if length is a valid IV length for the stream cipher. Some ciphers do not support IVs at all, and will return false for any value except zero.

void set_iv(const uint8_t *, size_t len)

Load IV into the stream cipher state. This should happen after the key is set and before any operation (encrypt/decrypt/seek) is called.

void seek(uint64_t offset)

Sets the state of the stream cipher and keystream according to the passed offset. Therefore the key and the IV (if required) have to be set beforehand.

void cipher(const uint8_t *in, uint8_t *out, size_t n)

Processes n bytes plain/ciphertext from in and writes the result to out.

void cipher1(uint8_t *inout, size_t n)

Processes n bytes plain/ciphertext in place. Acts like cipher(inout, inout, n).

void encipher(std::vector<uint8_t> inout)
void encrypt(std::vector<uint8_t> inout)
void decrypt(std::vector<uint8_t> inout)

Processes plain/ciphertext inout in place. Acts like cipher(,, inout.size()).

Code Example

The following code encrypts a provided plaintext using ChaCha20.

#include <botan/stream_cipher.h>
#include <botan/auto_rng.h>
#include <botan/hex.h>
#include <iostream>

int main()
   std::string plaintext("This is a tasty burger!");
   std::vector<uint8_t> pt(,;
   const std::vector<uint8_t> key = Botan::hex_decode("000102030405060708090A0B0C0D0E0F101112131415161718191A1B1C1D1E1F");
   std::unique_ptr<Botan::StreamCipher> cipher(Botan::StreamCipher::create("ChaCha(20)"));

   //generate fresh nonce (IV)
   std::unique_ptr<Botan::RandomNumberGenerator> rng(new Botan::AutoSeeded_RNG);
   std::vector<uint8_t> iv(8);

   //set key and IV

   std::cout << cipher->name() << " with iv " << Botan::hex_encode(iv) << ": "
             << Botan::hex_encode(pt) << "\n";
   return 0;

Available Stream Ciphers

Botan provides the following stream ciphers. If in doubt use CTR or ChaCha.


A cipher mode that converts a block cipher into a stream cipher. It offers parallel execution and can seek within the output stream.

(The -BE suffix refers to big-endian convention for the counter. This is the most common case.)


Another stream cipher based on a block cipher. Unlike CTR mode, it does not allow parallel execution or seeking within the output stream. Prefer CTR.

Available if BOTAN_HAS_OFB is defined.


A very fast cipher, now widely deployed in TLS as part of the ChaCha20Poly1305 AEAD. Can be used with 8 (fast but dangerous), 12 (balance), or 20 rounds (conservative). Even with 20 rounds, ChaCha is very fast. Use 20 rounds.

Available if BOTAN_HAS_CHACHA is defined.


An earlier iteration of the ChaCha design, this cipher is popular due to its use in the libsodium library. Prefer ChaCha.


The ‘XSalsa20’ variant of Salsa20 is also supported by the same class; this is selected by using a 192-bit nonce instead of Salsa20’s 64-bit nonce.

Available if BOTAN_HAS_SALSA20 is defined.


This is the SHAKE-128 XOF exposed as a stream cipher. It is slower than ChaCha and somewhat obscure.

Available if BOTAN_HAS_SHAKE_CIPHER is defined.


An old and very widely deployed stream cipher notable for its simplicity. Now broken. Avoid in new code

Available if BOTAN_HAS_RC4 is defined.