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A Brief History Of Cryptography Essay

2335 words - 9 pages

Computer science is a vast field that includes nearly everything relating to computers. Everyday there is information transmitted all over the Internet. Pictures are uploaded, transactions are made on thousands of online retail websites, and banking transactions take place everyday on the Internet. All of these transactions have created a need for secure communications. People wish to keep things like banking, medical, and political information from the eyes of unwelcome parties. This has created a need for cryptography. Cryptography is the science or study of the techniques of secret writing, especially code and cipher systems, and is used by everyone from the average citizen to the government and military.
Cryptography was first used long before the invention of computers. One well-known system was attributed to the reign of Julius Caesar (Klein ix). Another example is the famous Zimmerman telegraph, which was sent from Germany to Mexico during World War I (ix). In a more modern setting, cryptology was mainly used by the government until the late 1970s (Simpson 1). This is largely due to the fact that computers were too expensive, so not many households or businesses had them (1). However, after the computer revolution, cryptology became more public, especially in the business industry where there was a greater need to secure things like transactions (1).
One of the largest parts of commerce is transaction. Transactions are needed anytime two parties exchange money or information. Since the Information Age has begun, transactions are more common over the Internet, where it is more imperative that transactions are secure (Klein x). Corporations have also become more widespread, which means that cryptography is needed to secure communications between branches (x). Cryptography is used everyday in a variety of ways. Banks use it for PIN cards, mobile phones use it with calls and texts, satellite TV uses it as well as any home computer with Windows software (“Careers” 1).
Starting with basic terminology, cryptography is as stated the science or study of secret writing. In the digital world, this means that anything meant to be private, such as emails or credit card numbers, is encrypted so that only intended persons can see it (Parsons 285). Data that has not been encrypted is referred to as plaintext (285). Data that has been converted into encrypted data is referred to as ciphertext (285). When data is returned to its original form, it is called decryption (285). A key in cryptography is a word, number or phrase that is needed to either encrypt or decrypt a message (285).
Originally, cryptography was designed to be private key, which means that the two parties involved in the transfer of information met beforehand to agree on the encryption (Goldwasser 11). They would decide on an encryption and a decryption algorithm, as well as a common secret key (11). While the encryption and decryption may be known by third, uninvited parties, the...

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