TRiple DES Algorithm
Triple DES uses a "key bundle" which comprises three DES keys, K1, K2 and K3, each of 56 bits (excluding parity bits). The encryption algorithm is:
ciphertext = EK3(DK2(EK1(plaintext)))
I.e., DES encrypt with K1, DES decrypt with K2, then DES encrypt with K3.
Decryption is the reverse:
plaintext = DK1(EK2(DK3(ciphertext)))
I.e., decrypt with K3, encrypt with K2, then decrypt with K1.
Each triple encryption encrypts one block of 64 bits of data.
In each case the middle operation is the reverse of the first and last. This improves the strength of the algorithm when using keying option 2, and provides backward compatibility with DES with keying option 3.