The Basics of Cryptography

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Mar 13th, 2015


Cryptography is an emerging science that has gained popularity in the recent past. Cryptography is one of the two branches of Cryptology. The other branch of the Cryptology is Cryptanalysis. “Cryptology is the study of techniques for ensuring the secrecy and/or authenticity of information.” “Cryptography is the study of such techniques that ensure the secrecy and/or authenticity of information.” “Cryptanalysis deals with defeating such techniques to cover information, or forging information that will be accepted as authentic.” (William Stallings, 2007)

History: In simple words Cryptography is combination of techniques we develop/study to ensure the security of information. Cryptography is not a new discipline. It is as old as the history is. It dates back to the centuries Before Christ (B.C.). Julius Cesar, who was a famous Roman Emperor, is believed to have used a simplest form of encryption which is named after him as Cesar Cipher. In modern times, it has gained too much importance due to the increased attacks by hackers on different computer based systems. Cryptography is taught in graduate and undergraduate level programs to Computer Science and Information Technology student.

Terminology: The main portion of the Cryptography comprises on the study of Encryptions. “Encryption refers to the conversion of plaintext or data into unintelligible form by means of a reversible translation, based on a translation table or algorithm. Encryption sometimes called as ‘Enciphering’.” (William Stallings, 2007). Cryptography has developed as a vast subject over the last decades. These are many terminologies that are occasionally used in Cryptography.

Types of Cryptography: There are many types of Cryptography. Following are some important aspects of Cryptography,

  • Symmetric Key Cryptography: It is the type of Cryptography in which sender and receiver share the same key. Sometimes the key of sender and receiver are different. Data Encryption Standard (DES) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) are two important encryption standards.
  • Public Key Cryptography: In this kind of Cryptography, only one key is used to encrypt and decrypt a message.
  • Cryptanalysis : Cryptanalysis refers to finding a weakness in a network or a system.
  • Cryptographic Primitives: It refers to the algorithms having basic cryptographic techniques and their mutual relationship with other cryptographic problems.
  • Cryptosystems: One or sometimes more than one cryptographic primitives are used to develop cryptosystems which are complex algorithms.

Laws and Regulations:

  • Prohibitions: It has long been of interest of intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This is because of the reason that the secret communication between two persons may be dangerous for an individual of a country. Cryptography is prohibited in many countries. Some countries allow it with some strings attached.
  • Export Controls: Although many countries have some laws in place to restrict the export of encrypted information but due the widespread use of internet and email services, it became almost impossible to check or restrict internet and email information.
  • NSA Involvement: National Security Agency (NSA) has been involved in developing new type of encryptions. NSA is also intensively monitoring the information exchanged globally through internet and email services.
  • Digital Rights Management: It is a group of techniques for technologically controlling without permission use of copyrighted material. It is widely implemented to safeguard the rights of the copyright holders.
  • Forced Disclosure Of Encryption Keys: In some countries like the UK, it is the duty of the police force suspects to handover the encryption keys because some complex type of cipher texts are not able to decrypt without the key.

Sources of Standards: In every country the sitting government enacts law and rules related to cyber security.

In essence, Cryptography is a very important discipline nowadays. Cryptography is an emerging science that has gained popularity in the recent past. Cryptography is one of the two branches of Cryptology. The other branch of the Cryptology is Cryptanalysis. Each day hackers stole data from vulnerable systems that is causing loss of billions to individuals and firms. The hackers of the recent attack on Sony Company’s data claim that they have stolen more than one terra bytes (TB) of data. So it is need of the hour to study widely Cryptography to prevent hackers to steal data. To have a network security professional in place is the need of the hour for every organization. Cryptography dates back to the centuries Before Christ (B.C.). Julius Cesar, who was a famous Roman Emperor, is believed to have used a simplest form of encryption which is named after him as Cesar Cipher.

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