Introduction to Cryptography
The term ‘Cryptography’ refers to an exercise and detailed learning of strategies to safeguard important data and communication against the manifestation of adversaries. As per computer science is considered, cryptography is all about securing data and communication strategies that are derived from a network of rule-based calculations and mathematical theories known as ‘Algorithms.’ This process results in the transformation of messages in distinct ways which are not easy to decode. These deterministic algorithms play a vital role 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 being used.
What is the Purpose and Advantages of Cryptography?
Traditional cryptography wasn’t that capable of quenching the organizations’ needs when it comes to securing their data and other confidential issues.
But the 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, which even includes 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 the confidential information.
2. Maintaining Integrity
Without the detection of any suspicious activity, the data cannot be altered in storage or transit with respect to the sender and the intended receiver. By identifying confidential information, a hacker can misuse it and drive it to commit severe fraud. Cryptography 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 cyber-crime.
3. Prominent Non-Repudiation
With cryptography, the source of information can never deny its intentions regarding the creation/transmissions of the data at a later stage.
4. Protecting Authentication and Data across Devices
Cryptography offers the sender and receiver the ability to identify and confirm the identity and origin/destination of the data. 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. Cryptography 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
As cryptography evolves from computer science, mathematics, electrical engineering, and more, it is applied in various sectors like e-commerce, digital currencies, chip-based payment cards, and a lot 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. At the receiver’s end, using the same key, the message is decrypted to plaintext.
- Public-Key Cryptography: Mainly, it is used for the purpose of authentication; Public-Key or asymmetric encryption is performed by using one key for encryption and a different key for decryption. In this scenario, the public key is used for encrypting messages, and the receiver has the private key for decrypting the message.
- Hash Functions: Mostly implemented for the purpose of message integrity, instead of keys, this functionality uses a mathematic algorithm to encrypt a message. The most common examples of hash algorithms in today’s environment are SHA-1 along with 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 and 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 would be able to decode the message as it’s encrypted. The receiver, B, will be using 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?
The basic objective of cryptography is to secure the authenticity and integrity of a message. 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 the cryptographic keys and algorithms.
Why do we need Cryptography?
Whenever there is communication happening over an electronic network, the mandatory security requirements are fulfilled by cryptography.
The essential elements that create the platform for cryptography are:
Different cryptographic keys and algorithms are available to suit the needs of different actions. Financial transactions, security-related information, administration, law, and more, wherever electronic communication occurs, cryptography has a major 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. Major companies like Uber, eBay, GEICO and a lot more are looking for professionals having expertise in this technology. Right starting from managers, developers, data scientists, and more, this technology has a broad spectrum of employment avenues for young professionals.
Our world is advancing faster than ever before, and it’s easy to lose sight of the foundational elements of technology that enable us to live our lives the way we do. Cryptography went from being a technique used to communicate with the military to be one of the modern world’s cornerstones. With innovations and advancements, cryptography has the potential to propel the world to new heights.
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 –