"The Code Book By Simon Singh"

2441 words - 10 pages

By reading the book "The Code Book" by Simon Singh, I have learned a lot about codes, and how people have hidden messages. This book talks about: the history codes, how the codes were made and broken, and the many types of codes there are. "The Code Book" explains the difference between cryptography and cryptology. I have also learned many terms that are associated with codes and code breaking.Cryptography has been used as early as the Greek Empire. The main difference between then and now was the cipher or method used to code or hide information. Ancient people used concealment methods as opposed to coding methods like we do today. An example of this was a piece of leather being wrapped around a wooden staff and a message being written on it. The piece of leather would then be unwrapped, showing only a string of letters but the message would be concealed. The leather could be worn as a belt. This way the message would not be known until the receiver wrapped the piece of leather around a wooden staff of the same diameter as the original. This method was used by the Spartans in the military and was know as a scytale.Another method that was used by ancient people would be to conceal the message by hiding it. Demaratus, a Greek who had been expelled and was living in Persia witnessed Persia's build up of arms and wanted to send a secret message to the Greek so they would be ready for the attack. Demaratus scraped all the wax off a wooden folding tablet and wrote his message on it, then recovered it in wax so the message was concealed and could not be seen. This secret message received by Athens and Sparta, which was used to convert silver mine profits to make 200 war ships in preparation. This message helped the Greeks defeat the Persians and push them back.One of the first generals in war to actually use cryptography, or to hide the meaning of a message, was Julius Caesar in the Galic Wars. The advantage of using cryptography is that, if the message is intercepted, then the meaning is still concealed unless the key is known. Julius Caesar took the plain alphabet and shifted it three letters so that one letter would equal another ("a" became "c"). Thus, this method of coding something is called Caesar's shift cipher. Caesar used this method of coding so much that Valerius Probus wrote a treatise on his ciphers. Since it is possible to get 25 different algorithms (one for each possible shift for the letters in the alphabet), using this method could make many arrangements.The next step was to make a key where any letter could be any other letter, number, sign, or symbol. This was called general substitution cipher. Since there were no limits to what could be used as a letter there were so many possibilities in general substitution it was impossible to break by guessing. This made every code encrypted in this way unbreakable unless the key was known. This meant that a new method to decode a message was needed.This new decoding method was developed in...

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