Updated May 29, 2023
Introduction to Cryptography
The term ‘Cryptography’ refers to an exercise and detailed learning of strategies to safeguard essential data and communication against adversaries. As computer science is considered, cryptography is about securing data and communication strategies derived from a network of rule-based calculations and mathematical theories known as ‘Algorithms.’ This process results in transforming messages in distinct ways that are not easy to decode. These deterministic algorithms are vital in generating a cryptographic key, digital signing, and verification. This ultimately shields data browsing on the internet. It also helps in protecting confidential communications like transactions through credit cards, email, etc.
What is Cryptography?
The concept of preventing data and communications by embracing codes to create a platform whose information is intended should have access to read and process it is called Cryptography. Here, the term ‘Crypt’ refers to ‘hidden/vault,’ while the term ‘graph’ means ‘writing.’ Cryptography is an application to achieve safe and secure information and communication processes from numerous suspicious and malicious third parties – adversaries. Here, encryption and a key are chosen to transfigure an input – plaintext into an output – ciphertext that is encrypted. Thus, a particular algorithm will always generate the same ciphertext by efficiently transforming the same plaintext as often as the same key is used.
What are the Purpose and Advantages of Cryptography?
Traditional cryptography couldn’t quench the organizations’ needs when securing their data and other confidential issues.
But new-age cryptography has the capabilities to stand tall and perform proficiently with the following four objectives:
1. Privacy to its Best
The data can be acknowledged by any other individual for whom it was and is unintended. Securing sensitive data, including people’s personal information, is one of the significances of using cryptography. This firmly holds the reins of privacy and other anonymity-related issues, thereby mitigating the criminals’ opportunities and fake surveillance entities to decode confidential information.
2. Maintaining integrity
By identifying confidential information, a hacker can misuse it and drive it to commit severe fraud. It enables professionals with the skillsets to modify encrypted information. This medication can be recognized by the recipients the moment it gets modified. This helps maintain integrity across an enterprise and empowers it to respond to this cybercrime.
3. Prominent Non-Repudiation
With cryptography, the source of information can never deny its intentions regarding the creation/transmission of the data at a later stage.
4. Protecting Authentication and Data across Devices
Cryptography allows the sender and receiver to identify and confirm the data’s identity and origin/destination. In today’s modern world, mobile devices have come a long way in becoming an essential part of humans by providing them with information transfer and storage features. It helps to protect and store information across all types of mobile devices whenever transferred. Apart from all this, it also enables security procedures such as advanced authentication that helps to deter unauthorized customers.
Types of Cryptography
Cryptography, drawing from computer science, mathematics, and electrical engineering disciplines, has evolved and found applications in various sectors, including e-commerce, digital currencies, chip-based payment cards, and many more.
Based on functionality, there are different kinds of cryptography algorithms and keys that are discussed below:
- Secret-Key Cryptography: Mainly used to maintain privacy and security, it uses a single key for encryption and decryption. This is also commonly known as symmetric-key cryptography. In this process, the sender can encrypt a plaintext that goes as a ciphertext by using a key. The receiver decrypts the message to plaintext using the same key.
- Public-Key Cryptography: Authentication is one of the primary uses of cryptography. Public-key or asymmetric encryption involves using one key for encryption and a different key for decryption. In this scenario, the public key encrypts messages, and the receiver has the private key for decrypting the message.
- Hash Functions: Mostly implemented for message integrity, this functionality uses a mathematical algorithm to encrypt a message instead of keys. The most common examples of hash algorithms in today’s environment are SHA-1 and MD5.
Let’s build a scenario to understand the cryptography concept. Assuming a person A has sent a text message to his friend B, who lives in a different country, via a public platform. However, a person named C hacks the communication course’s security, changes the message from A, and redirects it to person B. This is where the concept of cryptography comes into the picture.
Now A uses a key to encrypt the same message and sends it over the same public platform; however, this time, no one can decode the message as it’s encrypted. The receiver, B, will use his decrypting key to transform the message into a readable format again. And even if C hacks the communication channel midway and he alters the message, B will get error information when he tries to decrypt the same message.
How is Cryptography Used?
Cryptography’s primary objective is to secure a message’s authenticity and integrity. The concept of having electronic keys in a communication network is to ensure that the transmitted data reaches the receiver without any disruption. With the assistance of secured computer systems, the sender can now decipher the information with cryptographic keys and algorithms.
Why do we need Cryptography?
Cryptography fulfills the mandatory security requirements whenever communication happens over an electronic network.
The essential elements that create the platform for cryptography are:
Different cryptographic keys and algorithms are available to suit the needs of other actions. Financial transactions, security-related information, administration, law, and more, wherever electronic communication occurs, cryptography has a significant role in the play.
How will this technology Help you Grow in your Career?
The concept of cryptography has boomed over the last 4-5 years. Significant companies like Uber, eBay, GEICO, and many more are looking for professionals with expertise in this technology. This technology has a broad spectrum of employment avenues for young professionals, starting from managers, developers, data scientists, and more.
Our world is advancing faster than ever, and it’s easy to lose sight of the foundational elements of technology that enable us to live as we do. Cryptography transformed from a military communication technique to becoming one of the cornerstones of the modern world. It can potentially propel the world to new heights with innovations and advancements.
This has been a guide to What is Cryptography? Here we discussed the concept, uses, and types with the advantages of Cryptography. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –