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Understanding Cryptography

Understanding Cryptography


Let’s try to break the code. If you can, drop your comment down below.

The code above is one of the ciphertexts in cryptography that uses Qwerty Code.

Why is cryptography so important? Essentially, cryptography can be defined as a method for encrypting and protecting information. Earlier, cryptography was used in the Royal family and later brought extensive usage in the military.

The Beginning of Cryptographic Techniques

The earliest cryptographic technique has been produced over the past 4000 years ago in Egypt, called ‘hieroglyph’. The ‘hieroglyph’ is written through symbols and is used in the Royal family to convey a certain message, where the content of the information is not difficult. Instead, it was used to demonstrate the dignity of the royals. The cryptographic technique can be seen in the tomb of an Egyptian noble.

During the Mesopotamian period in five centuries ago, cryptography was used to conceal a formula for pottery glaze, which was used on clay tablets. While, in India, the cryptographic secret writing of Mlecchita Vikalpa were used in the Kama Sutra documents as communication between the lovers. In addition, cryptography in India is also used among voyeurs.

The ancient cryptographic techniques were fully developed during the Roman Empire by Julius Caesar, known as Caesar Cipher. Julius Caesar used a ciphertext to communicate with his officers. Caesar Cipher is written by shifting the letters in an encryption message with a specific shift number. Only the recipient will know how many shift numbers are concerned.

For instance, if a shift number equals to 1, then it will be as follows:

Plain text: Attack now

Ciphertext: buubdl opx

If the shift number equals to -1:

Plain text: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

Ciphertext: bcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyza

Cryptographic Developments in the Middle Ages and the Modern

In the mid-century, Caesar Cipher remained a cryptographic standard. Afterwards, a cryptographic analysis, called cryptanalysis began to seek a more systematic method through Al-Kindi, an Islamic mathematician who developed a technique known as frequency analysis around 800 AD. The technique involves the percentage calculation of letters in the plain text and the ciphertext, then replacing the symbols with letters that have the same percentage of occurrences to break the encryption code. The method is the first to be achieved in comprehending the systematic method.

While in 1465, the polyalphabetic cipher technique was introduced by the Alberti Leone as a solution to the frequency analysis technique. The technique involves merging letters to encode plain text and random related letters to be exchanged into different combinations of letters. However, the change of the letter will be instructed through capitalization in the ciphertext. To use this method, one cipher disc is used to show how the letter in plain text relates to the letter in ciphertext.

Remarkably, polyalphabetic cipher also incorporates the old method of Caesar cipher and increases the safety of confidential information. The new methods were also developed in the Renaissance period, including binary encoding by Sir Francis Bacon in 1623.

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Cryptography continues to evolve by witnessing various tools designed to encrypt information or code. Among the earliest was in 1790, where Thomas Jefferson created a cipher wheel that had 36 rings of letters to achieve the complex encoding. In 1917, Gilbert Vernam has created a teleprinter cipher that used a key on paper tape with the addition of words to encode the information.

Cryptography continued to be sustained in World War II (WW2), where the German army used the Enigma machine designed by Arthur Scherbius. Enigma machine was used to complicate the communication information between Nazi Germany and the U-boats that sparked a great success to the Allied troop in WW2.

Cryptography in the Era of Computer

With the upsurge of computers, cryptography became far more advanced than it was in the analogue era.  The 128-bit mathematical encryption is the current standard in computing systems and devices that offers more robust encryption than the ancient and medieval cipher. Beginning in 1990, computer scientists were actively revising aspects of information protection through modern encryption and thus, the dubbed quantum cryptography was created.

The adaptation of cryptography has received massive acceptance to the extent that it is also being used in the cryptocurrency sphere. Notably, cryptocurrencies use various cryptographic techniques, and the hash function, public-key cryptography and digital signatures are among them. These techniques are used as a step to protect the data stored in the blockchain as well as to validate the transaction. The elliptical Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) is a specific form of cryptography used in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as additional safety measures and ensures that existing assets should only be used by the rightful owner.

Our Two ‘Sats

Cryptographic techniques used in a variety of computing systems and devices, including cryptocurrencies are the result of the discovery by mathematicians and experts in the last 4000 years ago. Undeniably, the usage of cryptographic technique in the modern world needs to be improved and developed efficiently, to complement the world’s most sophisticated today.

Among those cryptographic techniques, which one would you prefer?


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