By University of Phoenix
At its core, cryptography is the practice of encoding and decoding messages to prevent unauthorized access. This concept has existed for thousands of years, and its evolution has been shaped by human ingenuity and the changing landscape of technology.
In ancient times, cryptography was used as a means of communication between military commanders during times of war. One of the earliest examples of encryption was the Caesar Cipher, invented by Julius Caesar more than 2,000 years ago. This simple encryption technique involved shifting each letter in a message by a fixed number of positions down the alphabet. The key, or the number of positions shifted, was known only to the sender and the recipient.
Fast-forward to the modern era and cryptography has become an integral part of our daily lives. Cryptography is the use of mathematical techniques to shape data and prevent it from being seen, used or changed by unauthorized parties. We use it to protect our online transactions, secure our communications and guard our personal information.
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Cryptography can be broadly divided into two categories: symmetric-key cryptography and public-key cryptography. In symmetric-key cryptography, the same secret key is used for both encryption and decryption. The sender and the receiver must share the same key, which can be challenging in situations where the parties have never met.
On the other hand, public-key cryptography, also known as asymmetric key cryptography, involves the use of two keys — a public key and a private key. The public key used to encrypt messages is freely available. The private key, which is kept secret, is used to decrypt the messages. Asymmetric-key cryptography has revolutionized the industry by making it possible for secure communication to take place over insecure networks.
Cryptography has been leveraged across a wide variety of industries. Consider the following:
Cryptography has numerous applications in the modern world, most notably in online security. With the rise of e-commerce and online banking, there is a greater need for secure transactions over the internet. Cryptography is used to protect the transmission of sensitive data such as credit card numbers, passwords and other personal information.
Cryptography is still used in military and intelligence operations. During times of war, cryptography can make the difference between victory and defeat. Governments and militaries use sophisticated encryption techniques to protect their communication and keep their strategies secret.
In the field of digital rights management, cryptography is used to protect digital content such as music, movies and books from unauthorized access and distribution.
Cryptography is the practice of securing communication in the presence of outside third parties. It protects sensitive information from being accessed by unauthorized parties, such as hackers or other malicious actors. It transforms data into an unreadable form without an encryption key. Cryptography also provides authentication, allowing two parties to communicate securely with each other and verify identities.
Cryptography is a technique that is often used in cybersecurity to protect information. It relies on algorithms to encode data so that only someone with the correct key can decode it. This key could be a password, a physical key or another type of secret code.
The purpose of cryptography is to make it difficult for unauthorized individuals to access data, even if they intercept it. Securing this data is an essential part of cybersecurity, and cryptography is one of the main techniques to protect data from unauthorized access.
Organizations that handle sensitive information, such as financial institutions or government agencies, often use cryptography.
Cryptography encompasses a variety of techniques and algorithms. The most common techniques include a secret key, a public key and hash functions.
In cryptography, a secret key is a piece of information or framework used to encrypt and decrypt messages. Each participant in a private communication has access to a shared secret key. The system’s level of security depends on both the strength of the encryption algorithm and the secrecy of the key. The key must be known only to the sender and receiver of the message. If the key is compromised, the security of the system is compromised.
A public key is a large numerical cryptographic key used to scramble data. Unlike a secret key, which is kept private, the public key is shared with everyone in the network. The only way to decrypt a message using one key is to use the second key. This cryptography is often used in online banking, email and file-sharing applications.
Hash functions are algorithms that accept inputs of any size and generate what is known as a hash, or a fixed-length output. Cryptographic hash functions are intended to be one-way functions, meaning it is difficult or impossible to reverse the process and use the hash to determine the original input. This makes them helpful in verifying a data set has not been tampered with or corrupted. They are also used in digital signatures and to protect passwords.
A career in cryptography can involve various tasks, such as designing and implementing encryption algorithms and protocols, developing software that uses cryptographic techniques, auditing systems for security vulnerabilities or researching new cryptographic algorithms.
As technology becomes more sophisticated, the need for cryptography professionals will only continue to grow, which means jobs in cryptography may become increasingly available. For example, demand for information security analysts is expected to increase by 35% from 2021 to 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To pursue a career in cryptography, individuals should be comfortable with math and computer programming. For example, to become an information security analyst, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or a related field is often recommended. Professional certification may also be required.
IT graduate-level programs often teach encryption and cryptography methods. Graduate-level programs can offer advanced courses on cryptography and encryption. They can also give students research opportunities to learn more about specific topics to better prepare for a professional setting.
Many more options are available, such as online courses, boot camps and self-study materials.
Cryptography has become an essential tool for securing digital communication, protecting personal information and ensuring the integrity of online transactions. As we look to the future, the field of cryptography will likely continue to evolve and shape the way we interact with technology.
Whether you’re seeking to gain a basic understanding of information technology or cybersecurity, or you’re a working professional looking to expand your skill set, University of Phoenix (UOPX) offers online course collections and bachelor’s and master’s degrees to help you meet your goals. Learn more about undergraduate and graduate online technology degrees from UOPX and start your IT journey today!
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