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Cryptography Basics

Imagine that you are sitting in a coffee shop with your laptop in front of you. You are connected to the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi, and you decide that you want to log into your bank account. How do you ensure that no one in the coffee shop can intercept your network traffic including that containing your bank account password? How does the bank secure all your sensitive data? The answer to these questions lies heavily in cryptography.

Cryptography is the practice and study of secure communication in the presence of third parties. It is widely used in a variety of applications, including email, file sharing, secure communications over the network, and secure storage of data. The goal of cryptography is to protect information from unauthorized access and to ensure the privacy of communications.

Cryptography is a very complex field. We’ve compiled common questions regarding this subject below.

How does encryption differ from encoding?

Encoding is a process of converting data into a format that can be easily processed by a computer. Encryption is a process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format. Encryption is used to protect information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

Unlike encryption, encoding does NOT protect data from being readable by unauthorized individuals who have the encoded data.

What is encryption?

Encryption is the process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format. This is done in order to protect the information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

 

What is decryption?

Decryption is the process of transforming encrypted data back into its original form.

What problems does cryptography solve?

Cryptography solves many problems revolving around protecting the confidentiality of data. For example, it is used to protect information from unauthorized access and to ensure the privacy of communications. It can also be used to protect data at rest, such as files stored on a computer hard drive, and data in transit, such as emails sent over the Internet.

What is Symmetric Encryption?

Symmetric encryption is a type of encryption where a single key is used to encrypt and decrypt data. This key is typically a secret shared between two parties and is used to protect information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. Symmetric encryption is much faster than asymmetric encryption but has the challenge that the shared key must somehow be securely shared between two parties wishing to communicate.

What is Asymmetric encryption?

Asymmetric encryption is a type of encryption where keys come in pairs, a public key that can be shared with anyone and a private key that is only known to the owner. The main advantage of asymmetric encryption is that it can be used to communicate securely with third parties one has never communicated with before. The main disadvantage is that it is slower and more complicated to set up.

What is hashing?

A hashing algorithm is a mathematical function that converts a digital data into a seemingly random string of bits, called a hash value. Hashing is used to index and retrieve items in a database because it is faster to find the item using the shorter hash value than to find it using the original value. It is also commonly used to store secrets that should not be decryptable such as passwords and within signature algorithms that are used to verify the integrity of data.

What is PKI?

PKI is a system for the creation and management of digital certificates. PKI is used to authenticate users and devices, and to encrypt and decrypt information. PKI certificates are used to verify the identity of a user or device, and to encrypt and decrypt information. PKI certificates are also known as x509 Certificates and are typically issued by a Certification Authority (CA).

What is SSL?

SSL/TLS is a security protocol that provides communication security over the Internet. It is the standard for encrypting communication between web browsers and web servers. Read more about SSL here.

Cryptography Basics

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