How is cryptography used in cybersecurity?
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.
Types of 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.
Careers in cryptography
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.