Cryptography: what is it and its uses

Cryptography, or crypto, refers to the technique of securing information and communications through codes. By doing so, only those people you send information holding the decoding key to can understand it and process it.

Cryptography concerns the construction and the analysis of protocols that prevent third parties or the public from reading messages meant to remain private.

Thus it prevents unauthorized access to the given information. Indeed, The prefix “crypt” means “hidden, secret,” and suffix “-graphy” means “writing.”

Cryptography is an ancient art. Since its dawn, humanity has developed and used it to convey secretly and, to an extent, securely messages concerning military operations, espionage, bargains, and simple messaging between individuals.

Cryptographic techniques derive from maths. In contemporary times, it places calculations known as algorithms to code messages.

Nowadays, cryptography does not limit to securing information exchange. Mathematical algorithms allow cryptographic key generation, digital signing, verification to protect data privacy, browsing on the internet, and protecting the confidential exchange of information such as financial transactions.

Last but not least, it is ever-evolving and adopting. The last frontier of crypto is quantum physics.

Read more below!

Cryptography: a brief history

An inscription found in an Egyptian tomb of a bureaucrat dating 1900 BC is the first evidence of the use of cryptography systems in history.

Afterward, Roman historian Sallustius claimed that Caesar invented a cipher that brings his name.

Caesar’s cipher, a polyalphabetic system, ended as the base of more advanced ciphers such as Leon Battista Alberti’s cipher disk and the Vigenere cipher in the early modern period.

A pseudo-cryptographic method employed in Antiquity and in modern times alike is steganography.

The term steganography refers to a technique that aims to hide the communication between two interlocutors. Unlike encryption, steganography aims to keep the very existence of the message away from prying eyes by hiding it.

To learn more about steganography, have a look on our dedicated blog.

Cryptography: today’s characteristics

In today’s age of computers, cryptography concerns how plain text is converted to cipher. The intended receiver of the text can only decode it once provided with the decryption keys.

It follows a list of the main characteristics of contemporary cryptography:

First and foremost, the most important is confidentiality. The encrypted message can be accessed by a person possessing the keys, as said above.

Secondly, we list integrity. Cryptography does not allow modification or alteration in storage or transmission without tampering with the information transmitted.

Thirdly, do not forget non-repudiation. The information creator or sender and cannot deny their intention to send information at a later stage.

Finally, we conclude with authentication. Cryptography confirms the identities of both sender and receiver and the origin of the information.

Conclusion

To conclude, this blog has outlined the main characteristics of cryptography. Crypto is a tale of technology, science, and wit.

Humanity has been employing it in war, conflict, and espionage, but it is also meant to protect transactions and privacy.

The latest developments of cryptography are quantum-based. The quantum-based computer calls for the development of quantum-based crypto to advance security levels.

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