Cryptography and Network Security

Cryptography and Network Security

Cryptography historically dealt with the construction and analysis of protocols that would prevent any third parties from reading a private communication between two parties. In the digital age, cryptography has evolved to address the encryption and decryption of private communications through the internet and computer systems, a branch of cyber and network security, in a manner far more complex than anything the world of cryptography had seen before the arrival of computers.

Where Cryptography Comes From

Computer cryptography started with the invention of the first computer nicknamed 'Colossus'. The cipher machines that were used before, during the Second World War, were in many ways the predecessors to today's computer devices. The simple language codes used in those early devices were replaced by the binary computer language of 0s and 1s to give rise to modern computer cryptography.

Modern Usage of Cryptography

In today's time, cyber cryptographic algorithms are used to transfer electronic data over the internet so that no third-party is able to read the data. The strength of the code is judged according to four parameters:

1. Confidentiality

This deals with how many people can understand the information that is being transmitted other than the two parties that are engaged in the conversation. If more people are able to read the files, it means the communication system is not secure.

2. Integrity

This deals with how easily the information that is being transmitted may be altered on its way from one spot to another without either the sender or the receiver being aware of the changes to its content.

3. Non-repudiation

Whether or not the creator of the piece of communication may be able to deny the intentions behind creating the message or its mode of transmission at a later stage.

4. Authentication

The sender and the receiver should both be able to confirm each other's identity as well as the point of origin of the transmitted information. This is a crucial first step towards establishing the veracity of the transmitted file.


The aim of cyber security is to attempt to create encryption systems that perform perfectly on all four of the above-mentioned parameters. This can be almost impossible to fully accomplish, since the strength of the encryption depends not only on computer programs but also on human behavior. The best security systems in the world can still be defeated by an easily-guessed password, or the user not logging out after a session or discussing security information with outsiders.

Today, cryptography uses some of the finest computer and mathematical minds on the planet. Every industry on the planet, from war to healthcare makes use of encryption to protect sensitive information that is being transmitted across the internet.

Importance in Cyber Security

The most basic uses of computer cryptography is for scrambling a piece of text and sending it over the internet to a remote location, where the data is unscrambled and delivered to the receiver. In this manner computer cryptography and cyber security go hand-in-hand. Certificate Authorities (CAs) are responsible for passing out digital certificates to validate the ownership of the encryption key that is used for securing communication on a trust basis. Let's take a look at two popular forms of encryption used by cyber security experts:

Symmetric

A symmetric encryption is used to create a file that can be both encrypted and decrypted using the same key. Also known as the 'secret key' encryption, it makes use of the same algorithm to decode a script as the algorithm used to encrypt it in the first place. This makes it easier for multiple sources to use the key since only a single code needs to be learned, but it also means there is only a single line of defense against hackers who may be able to guess the code.

Asymmetric

On the other hand, 'public key' encryption makes use of a key that belongs to a select group of people who are able to use it for encrypting/decrypting the data. Essentially, the defense of the encryption algorithm depends on more than a single key. Two keys are often used in this system, one to encrypt the information and a separate one to decrypt it. While a greater number of keys leads to some amount of confusion, it makes the communication system much more secure.

Responsibilities for Cyber Security Managers

Cyber security managers pay close attention to the encryption capabilities of their digital network, since it is the last line of defense against hackers. If the hacker somehow manages to break through the security firewall, passwords, and other measures taken to keep them out, the encryption becomes the only safeguard keeping them from reading protected data. Encryption algorithms have grown to become one of the most effective tools in the arsenal of a cyber security expert.

Cryptography and Network Security

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