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Introduction to Cryptography | Security Goals & Attacks

An Introduction to Cryptography from a Beginner's Point of View

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Cryptography is the science of writing in secret code and is an ancient art; the first documented use of cryptography in writing dates back to circa 1900 B.C. when an Egyptian scribe used non-standard hieroglyphs in an inscription. Some experts argue that cryptography appeared spontaneously sometime after writing was invented, with applications ranging from diplomatic missives to war-time battle plans.

It is no surprise, then, that new forms of cryptography came soon after the widespread development of computer communications. In data and telecommunications, cryptography is necessary when communicating over any untrusted medium, which includes just about any network, particularly the Internet.

Also Read: What is Cryptography?

Cryptography, then, not only protects data from theft or data alteration but can also be used for user authentication. There are, in general, three types of cryptographic schemes typically used to accomplish these goals: secret key (or symmetric) cryptography, public-key (or asymmetric) cryptography, and hash functions, each of which is described below.

In all cases, the initial unencrypted data is referred to as plaintext. It is encrypted into ciphertext, which will in turn (usually) be decrypted into usable plaintext. Cryptography is used mainly to achieve the Security Goals and protect them from Cryptographic Attacks.

Before you proceed there are a few terms about Cryptography which you should know.

Read about them here: Top 10 Cryptography Terminology Everybody Should Know

Security Goals

Within the context of any application-to-application communication, there are some specific security requirements, including:

1. Authentication

The process of proving one’s identity. (The primary forms of host-to-host authentication on the Internet today are name-based or address-based, both of which are notoriously weak.)

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  1. Darren Chaker says

    Very good intro to crytology and how its applied today. I shared it with friends who agreed. Please continue to post great articles! Darren Chaker

    1. Animesh Shaw says

      @Darren Yes of course I will. Thank you for your encouraging words. Thanks and please visit us regularly and also signup for our newsletter here:

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