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Cryptography and its Types

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Cryptography is technique of securing information and communications through use of codes so that only those person for whom the information is intended can understand it and process it. Thus preventing unauthorized access to information. The prefix “crypt” means “hidden” and suffix “graphy” means “writing”. In Cryptography the techniques which are use to protect information are obtained from mathematical concepts and a set of rule based calculations known as algorithms to convert messages in ways that make it hard to decode it. These algorithms are used for cryptographic key generation, digital signing, verification to protect data privacy, web browsing on internet and to protect confidential transactions such as credit card and debit card transactions. 

Techniques used For Cryptography: In today’s age of computers cryptography is often associated with the process where an ordinary plain text is converted to cipher text which is the text made such that intended receiver of the text can only decode it and hence this process is known as encryption. The process of conversion of cipher text to plain text this is known as decryption. 

Features Of Cryptography are as follows:

  1. Confidentiality: Information can only be accessed by the person for whom it is intended and no other person except him can access it.
  2. Integrity: Information cannot be modified in storage or transition between sender and intended receiver without any addition to information being detected.
  3. Non-repudiation: The creator/sender of information cannot deny his intention to send information at later stage.
  4. Authentication: The identities of sender and receiver are confirmed. As well as destination/origin of information is confirmed.

Types Of Cryptography: In general there are three types Of cryptography:

  1. Symmetric Key Cryptography: It is an encryption system where the sender and receiver of message use a single common key to encrypt and decrypt messages. Symmetric Key Systems are faster and simpler but the problem is that sender and receiver have to somehow exchange key in a secure manner. The most popular symmetric key cryptography system are Data Encryption System(DES) and Advanced Encryption System(AES).
  2. Hash Functions: There is no usage of any key in this algorithm. A hash value with fixed length is calculated as per the plain text which makes it impossible for contents of plain text to be recovered. Many operating systems use hash functions to encrypt passwords.
  3. Asymmetric Key Cryptography: Under this system a pair of keys is used to encrypt and decrypt information. A receiver’s public key is used for encryption and a receiver’s private key is used for decryption. Public key and Private Key are different. Even if the public key is known by everyone the intended receiver can only decode it because he alone know his private key. The most popular asymmetric key cryptography algorithm is RSA algorithm.  

Applications Of Cryptography: 

  1. Computer passwords: Cryptography is widely utilized in computer security, particularly when creating and maintaining passwords. When a user logs in, their password is hashed and compared to the hash that was previously stored. Passwords are hashed and encrypted before being stored. In this technique, the passwords are encrypted so that even if a hacker gains access to the password database, they cannot read the passwords.
  2. Digital Currencies: To safeguard transactions and prevent fraud, digital currencies like Bitcoin also use cryptography. Complex algorithms and cryptographic keys are used to safeguard transactions, making it nearly hard to tamper with or forge the transactions. 
  3. Secure web browsing: Online browsing security is provided by the use of cryptography, which shields users from eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle assaults. Public key cryptography is used by the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols to encrypt data sent between the web server and the client, establishing a secure channel for communication.
  4. Electronic signatures: Electronic signatures serve as the digital equivalent of a handwritten signature and are used to sign documents. Digital signatures are created using cryptography and can be validated using public key cryptography. In many nations, electronic signatures are enforceable by law, and their use is expanding quickly. 
  5. Authentication: Cryptography is used for authentication in many different situations, such as when accessing a bank account, logging into a computer, or using a secure network. Cryptographic methods are employed by authentication protocols to confirm the user’s identity and confirm that they have the required access rights to the resource.
  6. Cryptocurrencies: Cryptography is heavily used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to safeguard transactions, thwart fraud, and maintain the network’s integrity. Complex algorithms and cryptographic keys are used to safeguard transactions, making it nearly hard to tamper with or forge the transactions. 
  7. End-to-End Encryption: End-to-end encryption is used to protect two-way communications like video conversations, instant messages, and email. Even if the message is encrypted, it assures that only the intended receivers can read the message.  End-to-end encryption is widely used in communication apps like WhatsApp and Signal, and it provides a high level of security and privacy for users.

Advantages 

  1. Access Control: Cryptography can be used for access control to ensure that only parties with the proper permissions have access to a resource. Only those with the correct decryption key can access the resource thanks to encryption.
  2. Secure Communication: For secure online communication, cryptography is crucial. It offers secure mechanisms for transmitting private information like passwords, bank account numbers, and other sensitive data over the internet.
  3. Protection against attacks: Cryptography aids in the defence against various types of assaults, including replay and man-in-the-middle attacks. It offers strategies for spotting and stopping these assaults.
  4. Compliance with legal requirements: Cryptography can assist firms in meeting a variety of legal requirements, including data protection and privacy legislation.

Last Updated : 22 Apr, 2023
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