What do the Gallic Wars and internet shopping have in common? The answer, believe it or not, is cryptography. Cryptography is the cement of this digital world, but it also has a very long history which predates the digital age.
Many individuals do not realize that cryptography is a foundational element to our contemporary society. At its heart cryptography is about access to data, and controlling who can view and use it.
It is not merely a vital part of everyday technology such as smartphones, but additionally, it is enabling some of the latest innovations like blockchain and the cloud -- and therefore shaping our planet as we understand it.
So, let us give cryptography the credit it deserves and take the opportunity to fully grasp how it works -- at least the fundamentals!
Short History: From the Gallic Wars to World War II
Cryptography has been around for thousands of years. Among the earliest recorded uses of cryptography was (allegedly) by Julius Caesar. He utilized the Caesar Cipher about 2,000 years ago to deliver encoded military messages.
The cipher has been a substitution cipher in which each letter from the initial message is replaced using a letter equivalent to a specific number of letters shifted upward or down the alphabet. Only those with the secret -- which in this situation is the number by which the alphabet is changed -- may decipher the message. For example, if the secret is, then A=D, B=C, E =F, etc.
The evolution of cryptography has been gradual nonetheless grand. It began with simple substitution ciphers, such as Caesar's, or permutation ciphers (one in which you simply reorder the lettering, such as "hello" getting "lehlo"). However, as time went on and cryptography became widely used and known, ciphers obviously became more complex. Fast forward to today, where cryptography is a robust field that has many industrial players, contemporary programs, and resources.
The majority of us know of the famous Enigma machines which were used in the first to mid-20th century to protect diplomatic and military communication, most especially employed by the Germans in World War II.
Enigma machines utilized substitutions defined by wirings of wheels of 26 characters. Every letter was encrypted by a different substitution because the brakes were constantly turning. This is why the Enigma machine has been so difficult to break.
The Significant Crypto Development that Transformed the World
From the mid-1970s there was a major advancement in cryptography that changed everything: public key cryptography. Earlier this creation, it was that if Mak encoded a message to Anna, the secret he used to safeguard that message was the same key that Anna would use to decrypt this message. This is referred to as a symmetric key algorithm.
Public key cryptography, but uses an asymmetric keyword. In such systems, Mak could use a public key to encrypt a message to Anna, but Anna would use a unique private key to decrypt it.
This provides a new layer of safety as only Anna can decrypt the message because she's the only one with the private key. This is exactly what makes online shopping possible. Credit card information is encrypted using a public key, and only the retailer gets the private key to populate these particulars to finalize the trade.
Cloud Computing & Blockchain - Next Frontier’s of Cryptography
Allowing e-commerce is simply one of cryptography's many significant contributions to our electronic world. Since cryptography proceeds to evolve, researchers and technologists always find new methods to implement it since we see the development of new technologies. Let's take blockchain for example.
Just about everybody has heard of blockchain at this time, but not everyone knows it. To summarize, blockchain is essentially a shared database populated. Blockchain technologies provide a safe, efficient approach to create a tamper-proof log of activity. The most commonly known program of blockchain is for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Cryptography is used in two ways here. The first is through algorithms called cryptographic hash functions.
Using a chain of hashes of the database ensures that the order of transactions is maintained. Thus, the blockchain creates something akin to what in finance is called a ledger. But unlike a centralized ledger held in one lender, a blockchain ledger is dispersed across several computers, with each computer using the same view of the ledger. This is why one often sees blockchains referred to as"distributed ledgers."
Hash functions are also used, in the Bitcoin routine, to make sure that everyone's opinion of the ledger is precisely the exact same. This is done by a process known as"mining" The Bitcoin miners search for hash values which satisfy a particular property, as they expend effort (energy) doing this for successive hash values, so the effort of reversing the ledger and shifting it becomes prohibitive.
This is a really inefficient method (with regard to energy consumption) of ensuring everyone's view is exactly the exact same, and other kinds of blockchains take different approaches to fix this issue so as to use up less of their earth energy sources.
The next way cryptography is used in this example is to make digital signatures, which can be utilized to give authentication, data integrity, along with non-repudiation. A digital signature is generated by combining a user's private key with the data he or she wants to sign. Once the data is signed, the corresponding public key can be employed to confirm the signature is legal.
These digital signatures are utilized to make sure the data put to the blockchain is valid. In Bitcoin, the digital signatures are utilized to ensure the correct quantity of value is moved from 1 Bitcoin pocket to another. For example, the electronic signature guarantees Anna transferred the value out of her Bitcoin wallet, rather than out of Mak's wallet.
Cryptography & Cloud Tech
Another technology that couldn't evolve to what it's without cryptography is the cloud. The cloud could exist without cryptography but not in a safe manner. Since we've observed over the last several decades, cloud computing provides a massive selection of benefits for businesses, but there is a slew of new safety issues such as logging in, maintaining credentials secure, protecting information in the cloud -- the list continues. This is where cryptography comes into play.
Cryptography makes sure the credentials and information stored in the cloud have been encrypted, so no one can access them with no key. Even if someone is able to get a hold of your credentials, if data is properly encrypted, a cybercriminal will not be able to access your information without the key. For that reason, it's also very important to safeguard the key itself.
As more data has to be encrypted from the cloud, as there are new technologies being developed to make sure that this is efficient and sustainable in the long term. For example, the encrypted search has come to be a significant development, since this permits you to search info on the cloud, even while retaining it encrypted.
Without this, it would be virtually impossible to mine through all of your data stored at the cloud without exposing all and putting it in danger, unless the information was stored in an unencrypted form; which would produce safety dangers.
Another emerging technology enhancing cloud safety will be multi-party computation (MPC), which offers a way for a few parties to jointly compute a function above their inputs while maintaining the inputs personal.
How this works is when two parties wish to calculate a function within data X, then a party holds some data (state Y) along with the other party holds some other info (say Z), like in the event you understand Y and Y you can recover X, but in the event that you simply understand Y then you understand nothing about X.
This is a form of encryption, one can consider Y as the key and Z because of the ciphertext (or even vice-versa). Then, using this particular form of encryption the two parties could calculate a function on all of X without showing to the other party the value that they have. Thus, MPC allows one to calculate on encoded data, whether the data was encrypted by this kind of"encryption," that is often called secret-sharing.
Since cloud adoption continues to increase, it is important that everybody continues to embrace these technologies quickly. As technology advances, we will observe the deployment of complex cryptography concepts in loud surroundings.
Possible Prospects Are Infinite
Prospective applications of cryptography are endless, especially when you consider what's possible with MPC. Consider what can be achieved if you blended machine learning and MPC from the medical field. Individuals who desire advanced genomics may use MPC to process information and do experiments, without compromising privacy. And that's just one of many possible scenarios!
Our world is progressing faster than ever before and it's easy to drop sight of these foundational elements of technologies that enable us to live our lives how we perform. Cryptography moved from being a technique used to convey to the military to be one of the cornerstones of the modern world.
As technology touches each and every person's life today, I believe it's essential for all to comprehend the fundamental theories that permit technology to operate and enjoy this cryptography has the capacity to propel us to new heights never even yet imagined.