An indicator that a tool or system is working well, especially in programming, is that you never have to think about it. It can chug along in the background, without us giving it any attention. Imagine that using your refrigerator required an intimate understanding of endothermic reactions, or that opening it required a complete mechanical comprehension of how a compressor works.
Thankfully, it doesnt, and all we need to know is how to open and shut the door. The same goes for encryption.
Its likely that you used some form of encryption today. Whenever you log into a website, encryption protects your information while its sent to its destination. Most smart phones and computers also use some form of encryption to protect their contents. This encryption is what caused the controversy surrounding the FBIs demand for Apple to break into one of the San Bernardino shooters phones.
If it werent for encryption, services such as online banking and social media wouldnt exist, and while digital encryption is relatively new on the timeline of human existence, the practice of obfuscating communication is not.
Encryption grew out of cryptography, the art of writing and solving codes. Though various forms of cryptography have existed for thousands of years, one of the first and most recognizable forms of encryption was used by Julius Caesar. Dubbed the Caesar Cipher, it works by simply shifting all the letters in the alphabet by some fixed number.
RELATED:UA astronomers make observations on blinking brown dwarfs
So if the number is three, the letter “A” becomes “D,” “Y” becomes “B” and “HELLO” becomes “KHOOR”. To decrypt the message, you just shift all the letters back by three. Though this is a simple and specific example, it adheres to the main ideas of how encryption works.
Anything encrypted uses some variation of two main components, a cipher text and a key. The cipher text is the message after its been encrypted and the key is the algorithm used to turn the cipher text back into readable text. In the previous example, “KHOOR” was the cipher text and the number three was the key. Modern encryption algorithms hold trueo these two main concepts but are vastly more complex.
An encryption system is only as good as the number of possible keys to decrypt it. Being limited by the alphabet, the Caesar Cipher has just 25 possible keys, and a computer could try all 25 in the blink of an eye. As the popularity of computers grew, so did the need for encryption systems that are difficult for computers to crack.
Algorithms were needed that were difficult for a computer to solve, but easy for a computer to confirm that a provided solution was correct. One way this was achieved was by creating algorithms with so many possible keys that it would take an eternity for a computer to crack it.
Throughout the digital revolution, mathematicians and computer scientists employed various encryption methods until we arrived at two main schools of thought regarding encryption: symmetric and asymmetric cryptography.
In symmetric cryptography, the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt the cipher. This type of encryption is most often associated with computer hardware, such as encrypting your hard drive, because its simplicity makes it less resource-demanding and therefore more efficient.
RELATED:UA study finds distrust a unique phenomenon
Asymmetric encryption, also known as Public Key Cryptography, relies on two separate keys. The first is the public key, which is the key that can be safely shared with others to encrypt a message. The second key is the private key, which is the only thing that can decrypt something encrypted with the associated public key.
The basic idea is that I can send you my public key, which you use to encrypt a message that you send to me. I then use my private key to decrypt your message. This makes asymmetric encryption perfect for things such as authenticating passwords when you log into a website.
All major cryptographic systems today are in one of these two categories, though each category contains countless different encryption algorithms, each with strengths and weaknesses. An important way weaknesses are addressed is a principle by Claude Shannon, called Shannons Maxim. It states that “one ought to design systems under the assumption that the enemy will immediately gain full familiarity with them.” This essentially means that an algorithm should be able to be released to the public without this making it easier to be cracked.
As you can probably tell, theres a lot to be said about encryption and its role in our world today. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg; theres still a great deal to be learned. As always, gaining a better understanding of how things work only stands to broaden our worldview as well as satisfy our curiosity. As our friend Claude Shannon once said, “I just wondered how things were put together.”
Follow Brian Winkler onTwitter
Here is the original post:
Encryption Explained – Arizona Daily Wildcat
- Email encryption - Wikipedia - April 8th, 2019
- What is Encryption, and Why Are People Afraid of It? - April 8th, 2019
- Data encryption | cryptology | Britannica.com - April 8th, 2019
- How to Enable Full-Disk Encryption on Windows 10 - April 1st, 2019
- After Paris, Encryption Will Be a Key Issue in the 2016 Race - March 27th, 2019
- Does Encryption Really Help ISIS? Heres What You Need to ... - March 27th, 2019
- AES and RSA Encryption Explained - March 27th, 2019
- Encryption: What it is and why its important - Norton - March 23rd, 2019
- Email encryption in transit - Gmail Help - March 21st, 2019
- Authenticated encryption - Wikipedia - March 19th, 2019
- Email Encryption Options for MDaemon Email Server - March 14th, 2019
- How to Encrypt Files on Windows - Tutorial - Toms Guide - March 6th, 2019
- Encryption, Key Management - bank information security - March 5th, 2019
- Which Types of Encryption are Most Secure? - February 7th, 2019
- JSON Object Signing and Encryption (JOSE) - February 4th, 2019
- What Is Encryption, and How Does It Work? - January 26th, 2019
- The Pitfalls of Facebook Merging Messenger, Instagram, and ... - January 26th, 2019
- Encryption: Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Lead to Breaches - January 14th, 2019
- Encryption | Information Technology Services - December 31st, 2018
- Encryption - Investopedia - December 16th, 2018
- How to Protect Data at Rest with Amazon EC2 Instance Store ... - December 9th, 2018
- Next Generation Encryption - blogs.cisco.com - December 4th, 2018
- 3 Different Data Encryption Methods - DataShield blog - November 22nd, 2018
- Security and encryption | Documentation | Turtl - November 18th, 2018
- Encryption | General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - November 16th, 2018
- Using Encryption and Authentication Correctly (for PHP ... - November 13th, 2018
- Encryption | SANS Security Awareness - November 9th, 2018
- Types of Encryption | Office of Information Technology - November 5th, 2018
- Use Your own Encryption Keys with S3s Server-Side ... - October 29th, 2018
- What is Tokenization vs Encryption - Benefits & Uses Cases ... - October 12th, 2018
- Device Encryption | it.ucsf.edu - October 12th, 2018
- 5 Common Encryption Algorithms and the Unbreakables of the Future - September 15th, 2018
- Top 5 best encryption software tools of 2018 | TechRadar - August 26th, 2018
- New EBS Encryption for Additional Data Protection | AWS ... - August 22nd, 2018
- Best Encryption Software 2018 - Encrypt Files on Windows PCs - August 20th, 2018
- Download BestCrypt Volume Encryption 3.78.05 / 4.01.09 Beta - July 26th, 2018
- End-to-end encryption - Wikipedia - July 24th, 2018
- Download Symantec Encryption Desktop 10.4.0 Build 1100 - July 15th, 2018
- HTTPS - Wikipedia - July 10th, 2018
- AES encryption - June 20th, 2018
- Encrypt email messages - Outlook - June 20th, 2018
- Download Sophos Free Encryption 184.108.40.206 - softpedia.com - June 19th, 2018
- Does Skype use encryption? | Skype Support - June 16th, 2018
- Encryption- Computer & Information Security - Information ... - May 25th, 2018
- Enable BitLocker on USB Flash Drives to Protect Data - May 25th, 2018
- Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) - msdn.microsoft.com - April 12th, 2018
- Encryption Software Market - Global Forecast to 2022 - March 24th, 2018
- What AES Encryption Is And How It's Used To Secure File Transfers - March 24th, 2018
- Encryption vs. Cryptography - What is the Difference? - March 24th, 2018
- Energy-efficient encryption for the internet of things | MIT News - February 16th, 2018
- The Best Encryption Software - TopTenReviews - February 16th, 2018
- File-Based Encryption | Android Open Source Project - February 7th, 2018
- Beyond Encryption | Secure Enterprise email using existing ... - February 1st, 2018
- Azure Search enterprise security: Data encryption and user ... - January 26th, 2018
- Skype finally getting end-to-end encryption | Ars Technica - January 13th, 2018
- FBI chief says phone encryption is a 'major public safety issue' - January 13th, 2018
- Encryption and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) - December 27th, 2017
- Key (cryptography) - Wikipedia - December 21st, 2017
- security - Fundamental difference between Hashing and ... - December 15th, 2017
- What Is Encryption? | Surveillance Self-Defense - December 4th, 2017
- Comodo Disk Encryption Download - softpedia.com - December 1st, 2017
- Encryption - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - November 24th, 2017
- BitLocker Drive Encryption Overview - technet.microsoft.com - November 23rd, 2017
- The Encrypting File System - technet.microsoft.com - November 18th, 2017
- FBI cant break the encryption on Texas shooters smartphone - November 13th, 2017
- DOJ: Strong encryption that we dont have access to is ... - November 13th, 2017
- DOJ Fires Up New War With Apple Over Encryption - November 12th, 2017
- Security Awareness - Encryption | Office of Information ... - October 15th, 2017
- Data Encryption and Decryption (Windows) - October 14th, 2017
- Trumps DOJ tries to rebrand weakened encryption as responsible ... - October 11th, 2017
- How to encrypt (almost) anything | PCWorld - September 22nd, 2017
- Private Internet Access | VPN Encryption - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Substitutes | Privacy | Encryption - September 21st, 2017
- Data Encryption: Hardware & Software Security: Online ... - September 21st, 2017
- How To Enable BitLocker Drive Encryption In Windows 10? - September 21st, 2017
- PGP Encryption Tool - iGolder - September 21st, 2017
- encryption - How to encrypt String in Java - Stack Overflow - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Software Market, Size, Trends and Forecast 2020 - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Definition - Tech Terms - September 20th, 2017
- Why You Should Be Encrypting Your Devices and How to Easily Do It - Gizmodo - September 6th, 2017