Cryptography applications: Data security and secure communication
In the digital age, cryptography is essential for data security. Cryptography hides our most sensitive data, from government secrets to personal messages. Cryptography provides some privacy when shopping online or storing trade secrets.
Cryptography builds trust in online transactions:
- Include these:
- Secrecy: Only the intended recipient can access encrypted data.
- Integrity: An encrypted message cannot be altered in storage or transit between the sender and receiver without detection.
- The sender of encrypted data cannot deny sending it.
- Communication authenticity: Sender, receiver, and information origin and destination are verified.
- Key management: Safeguarding data encryption and decryption keys and related tasks like key length, distribution, generation, rotation, etc.
Basic cryptography knowledge
Different methods have been used by cryptologists to encrypt messages and private data. Cryptographic algorithms have advanced, but the basics are the same.
Basic cryptography uses a secret key or keys to encode plaintext into ciphertext, which can be decoded back into plaintext.
Codes for cryptography
Encryption and decryption use cryptographic algorithms. These algorithms create secret keys to convert plaintext to ciphertext and vice versa. RSA, AES, and ECC are well-known cryptographic algorithms.
The majority of cryptographic algorithms generate keys by multiplying large prime numbers. Modern computers can multiply, but factoring large numbers back into two large primes is nearly impossible. Lower-key cryptosystems can be reverse-engineered quickly, but even the fastest supercomputers would need hundreds to hundreds of thousands of years to brute-force today’s stronger cryptographic algorithms. Random numbers are used in elliptic curve cryptography to create stronger keys that even next-generation quantum computers cannot break.
Encryption and decryption require key management in every cryptosystem. Generating, storing, and sharing encryption keys securely is key management. The security of encrypted data depends on proper key management, as weak or stolen keys can compromise any cryptosystem. Key management requires key sizes, randomness, and storage.
Symmetrical cryptosystems use one key for encryption and decryption. Each user must have the same private key for these systems to work. Share private keys via a trusted communication channel like a private courier or secured line or, more commonly, a secure key exchange method like the Diffie-Hellman key agreement.
This encryption is faster and more efficient than others, despite its single-key vulnerabilities. AES, 3DES, and DES are popular symmetric encryption algorithms.
Asymmetric encryption (public-key encryption) uses a public and private key. Public keys encrypt, private keys decrypt, and each user has their own key pair. Public-key cryptography uses two encryption keys to increase security, but it reduces efficiency. Asymmetric cryptography algorithms include RSA, ECC, and SSH.
Uses of cryptography
Internet security is a common cryptography application. Web browsers and servers use cryptographic protocols like TLS and SSL to establish secure connections. This secure channel keeps browser-website data private and uninterceptable.
Communication apps like email and WhatsApp use cryptography for end-to-end encryption (E2EE) and privacy. E2EE lets only the sender and recipient decrypt and read messages, making third parties including users’ service providers unable to access them.
Encrypting data on hard drives, smartphones, and cloud storage services is a common cryptographic technique. Strong algorithms like AES convert plaintext into ciphertext, preventing unauthorized parties from decrypting sensitive data without the authorized users’ encryption key.
Cryptography safeguards data. Hash functions generate fixed-size hashes (digests) of data, transforming a set of data into a unique numerical hash number. So unique are these hashes that changing a single character or space in the plaintext changes the numerical value. Receivers, applications, and websites can verify data integrity by comparing the received hash to the expected hash and ensuring data was not altered during transmission.
Hash functions are also used to verify user passwords without creating a vulnerable client-side database. Online banking services will only store password hashes. Despite stealing a database, a malicious actor could not deduce a user’s password from their hash.
Cryptography used in all kinds of business uses digital signatures to verify sent and received data. The documents can be verified or amended with digital signatures, which are generated with a private key that is encrypted using asymmetric cryptography to sign documents. In digital form signed paperwork can be verified by consumers using the public key issued by the sender to ensure authenticity and no tampering.
Throughout legislation, not being repudiated ensures the genuineness of messages that are received and prevents recipients from denying their validity. Digital signatures can prove that simply the sender authenticated the message as well as document, establishing non-repudiation. Cryptography-enabled non-repudiation, as seen in data integrity protocols and digital signatures, can verify legally binding negotiations, contracts, and other business transactions.
Key exchange is crucial to secure communication, especially in asymmetric cryptosystems. This initial step benefits from cryptography. Another publicly available cryptography milestone, the key exchange method known as the Diffie-Hellman algorithm, lets two parties securely exchange encryption keys over an insecure channel. This prevents eavesdroppers from deciphering encryption keys during key exchanges. Cryptography algorithms like the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol enable secure public-key encryption connections without a vulnerable alternative key exchange.
API communication security
A hallmark of Web 2.0 (and beyond), cooperative inter-app operability allows applications and web services to pull data from their respected walled virtual ecosystems, enabling massively expanded functionality of all kinds of apps from embedding social media posts into news articles to sharing critical systems analytics into advanced operational dashboards.
Cryptography protects sensitive data in application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable cross-program communication from eavesdropping and tampering, ensuring that only authorized parties can access it. In sensitive fields like public works and infrastructure, API keys and tokens are used with encryption to protect sensitive data exchanged between applications.
The quantum computer cybersecurity
The rise of quantum computing threatens encryption and cybersecurity. Most modern cryptosystems can withstand the computing power of traditional computers, which would take hundreds to hundreds of thousands of years to brute-force attack present cryptographic algorithms. However, quantum computers could boost today’s computers by orders of magnitude and cut the time it takes to crack even the strongest cryptographic keys from thousands to seconds.
Cryptologists are developing quantum-resistant cryptography to counter theoretical quantum computer attacks on most modern cryptographic algorithms. Quantum-resistant and post-quantum cryptography have as many uses as mainstream cryptography. Most computer scientists agree that major breakthroughs within the next 10 to 50 years will make quantum-resistant cryptography as important as quantum computing.
For secure and immutable on-chain transactions and updates, blockchain technology uses cryptography. Bitcoin uses cryptographic algorithms to mine and mint new coins, while cryptographic hash functions secure chain blocks. Digital signatures are created and verified using public-key cryptography during transactions. Blockchain uses encryption to create a trustless ecosystem where all actions can be authenticated and verified, encompassing most cryptography principles.
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