Cryptography is a branch of mathematics that deals with the encryption and decryption of data or information. It can also refer to codes, ciphers, and other methods used to protect information by hiding its content from an unintended recipient. In this article, we will explore what cryptography is as well as the history behind it. If you want to learn more about cryptography and how you can become a cryptographer then keep reading!
History of Cryptography
The oldest known use of cryptography was in ancient Egypt where hieroglyphs were often carved on stone tablets using a cryptographic system called glyph encryption. The most popular way people have attempted to hide messages has been through steganography which involves secret communication hidden within an innocent message such as with invisible ink or watermarks on documents like postcards and letters.
Steganography has been around since World War II when the military would hide messages in a soldier’s letter home that would only be visible once it was heated to reveal hidden information about troop movements or other sensitive data. This is why steganographers have often used pictures and images as their cover for hiding secret messages which were called “steganograms.”
The modern world of cryptography first began with the publication of The Codebreakers by David Kahn, an internationally acclaimed author on cryptology who helped America communicate securely during WWII through his work at the Army Security Agency (ASA). In 1973, American computer scientist Martin Hellman created public key cryptography – asymmetric encryption keys where anyone can use either one but never both together.
Today we are witnessing the development of quantum cryptography which relies on photons and other methods for encrypting data so if you’re into that, check out this article about what’s next in encryption.
What is Cryptography
Cryptography is the protection of information by hiding its content from unintended recipients. Cryptography is essentially the process of turning a message into an unreadable format and then reversing that to make it readable again. The process of transforming a message into an unreadable format is called encryption, and the transformation back to its original readable state is called decryption.
Types of Cryptography
Cryptography can be applied in two ways: symmetrically and asymmetrically. With symmetric cryptography, also known as a secret key or private key cryptography, both parties share the same set of keys that are used for encrypting messages from one party to another.
Asymmetrical cryptography uses different sets of keys – public keys (which everyone knows) and private ones (only shared with approved recipients).
Symmetric methods are generally much faster than asymmetric because they require less computation time when decrypting data but this should not stop you from exploring them!
What is Cryptographic Hashing
A cryptographic hash function takes input data and turns it into output which looks like random text but reveals no identifiable features about the original input file when encrypted as plaintext (or raw). The result of this encryption/decryption process creates what’s known as digital fingerprints for computer files because while the data is encrypted, it still reveals unique information about the file.
Hence its name: hashing means to chop or cut into pieces, which refers to how a hash function takes groups of bits from a data file and splits them up in random ways before outputting an altered number string as small as 32 digits. This process keeps files secure because of two important properties that make digital hashes so useful for preventing unauthorized access (RSA Security): uniqueness and unpredictability.
What Does a Cryptographer Do
Cryptographers are professionals who design and analyze the various aspects of encryption. They work with developers to create new tools that can provide security for private data, such as passwords or credit card information, from theft by hackers. Cryptography may be used in cyber warfare where they encrypt messages so enemy spies could not intercept them and decrypting communications sent back to their own forces while preventing eavesdropping on those same transmissions.
Areas to focus to become a cryptographer
Mathematics: knowing some basic algebra and geometry can help cryptographers design ciphers or analyze possible weaknesses in them. Knowing the fundamentals of probability theory is also helpful for analyzing how probable it is that someone will crack an encryption code. The mathematics behind cryptography requires at least linear algebra, discrete mathematics, probability theory, graph theory, analytical combinatorics (or finite fields), number theory as well as computational complexity approaches to these topics in order to work with others on project teams.
Computer Science: To be able to create secure software programs like those used by banks and other major institutions one needs the knowledge of data structures such as trees and graphs which are taught in computer science courses alongside information about different operating systems – all of which is crucial to creating a secure program.
Security: A cryptographer needs to have an understanding of the different types of security risks and how you can mitigate them in order to provide protection for data. As mentioned previously, this means knowing about encryption methods like symmetric key (or secret key) cryptography or asymmetric key (or public key) cryptography as well as cryptographic hashing algorithms that are used with these systems such as MD-based hashes – all topics taught in undergraduate computer science courses on cybersecurity, IT security, network administration, and information assurance.
How to Become a Cryptographer
You can get a graduate degree in cryptography or computer science from an accredited university that offers programs to train students for this career. This degree will provide the foundation of knowledge needed, but may not be sufficient by itself as many companies require experience before hiring someone so you might also want to pursue internships during your coursework and after graduating.
Career Outlook: Cryptographers are in high demand because of the increasing security threats that businesses face as well as the increased use of encryption for economic, defense and other purposes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth rate faster than average – 16% – through 2024 so this is definitely one career to consider.
In this post, we have discussed cryptography and what a cryptographer does. We also looked at the skills needed to become one as well as where they work and how you can get started on your career path in that field.