In a world where information and communication are the indispensable components of human activities, where men and technology must communicate or share information in order to make decisions; it, therefore, behooves that this composite essence of humans should be protected and managed to ensure its sustainability, integrity, and accuracy.

Encryption techniques have become the immediate solution to protect information against third parties. These techniques required that data and information should be encrypted with some sort of mathematical algorithm where only the party that shares the information could possibly decrypt to use the information. This phenomenon has long existed and is not fully reliable, posing danger to information sharing. However, many methods of encryption emerge to serve the need of the emergent trend of rapid technological advancement. These emergent techniques were more reliable and are fast in operation and performance wise.

Cryptography is the science of using mathematics to encrypt and decrypt data. Cryptography enables you to store sensitive information or transmit it across insecure networks (like the Internet) so that it cannot be read by anyone except the intended recipient.

Cryptography is a study of how to scramble data so that-

  • Anyone who steals it will be unable to scramble it.
  • Your intended recipients will be able to unscramble it with ease.

The first documented use of cryptography in writing dates back to circa 1900 B.C. when an Egyptian scribe used non-standard hieroglyphs in an inscription. Some experts argue that cryptography appeared spontaneously sometime after writing was invented, with applications ranging from diplomatic missives to war-time battle plans. It is no surprise, then that new forms of cryptography came soon after the widespread development of computer communications. In data and telecommunications, cryptography is necessary when communicating over any un-trusted medium, which includes just about any network, particularly the Internet. Cryptography can protect any kind of data, from very sensitive information, such as Internet-based commerce and banking transactions, to harmless messages you would just rather no one else knew about, such as a letter to a friend. Cryptography, also abbreviated as crypto, can provide a great deal of confidentiality and integrity checks for information. However, it is not a silver bullet, and it can lead to a tremendous false sense of security unless used properly.

Within the context of any application-to-application communication, there are some specific security requirements, including:

(1) Authentication- The process of proving one’s identity.

(2) Privacy/Confidentiality- Ensuring that no one can read the message except the intended receiver.

(3) Integrity- Assuring the receiver that the received message has not been altered in any way from the original.

(4) Non-repudiation- A mechanism to prove that the sender really sent this message.

However, as this new trend of fast and reliable cryptography emerged, there is a very big concern about the issue of using it to hide proof of violent schemes as many government authorities see it as an impending danger. Since Cryptography has become so powerful that messages scrambled with so-called strong cryptography are virtually indecipherable. Like many powerful technologies, this is a double-edged sword. For good, we know that Encryption can keep the email and financial transactions over the Internet secure and private, but law enforcement officials worry those criminals and terrorists could use the same tools to conceal incriminating evidence and violent plots.

This concern has convoked many viewpoints and arguments, which has alerted the formation of policies by some law enforcement agencies to regulate encryption techniques. In this view, we will be discussing popular encryption systems, types of cryptography, issues of regulating Encryption technology, social and legal implication, computer ciphers and encryption, and other cryptosystems, which will aid the understanding of Encryption Techniques and their advantages and challenges in the electronic age.

Important Terms Used in Cryptography:

The transformation of the actual message into coded form (scrambling) is known as Encryption or Enciphering and the reverse of this (unscrambling) is known as Decryption or Deciphering. The message to be encrypted is known as Plaintext or Message text.

The output of the encryption process is known as Cipher text or Cryptogram. The person who sends a message text is known as Sender and the person who intends to receive the message text is known as Receiver. Sending a message in plaintext rather than in cipher text to the receiver is termed as sending in Clear text. The person who intends to hack/steal the cipher text between the sender and receiver is known as Intruder or Attacker.

The set of data transformations used to do encryption or workhouse of cryptography is known as a Cryptographic Algorithm or simply a Cipher, normally the transformation is parameterized by one or more s. The art of breaking ciphers is known as Cryptanalysis and the art of developing and breaking ciphers is collectively known as Cryptology.

How does Encryption work?

Encryption uses a systematic or step-by-step procedure called an algorithm to convert data or the text of an original message, known as plaintext, into ciphertext, its encrypted form.

Cryptographic algorithms normally require a string of characters called a key to encrypt or decrypt data. Those who possess the key and the algorithm can encrypt the plaintext into ciphertext and then decrypt the ciphertext back into plaintext.

Cryptologists engage in an unending competition to create stronger cryptographic techniques and to break them. Many recent cryptography techniques are nearly unbreakable even with the most powerful computers. These systems produce ciphertext that appears to be random characters. These systems resist most existing methods for deciphering back into plaintext.

The many different types of new cryptosystems use highly complex mathematical language and resist breaking even though cryptologists may know the techniques used in creating them.

Cryptography Benefits:

Cryptography is the practice of securing information by converting it into a code that only authorized parties can decipher. Here are some benefits of cryptography:

(1) Confidentiality: Cryptography ensures that only authorized parties can read or access sensitive information. This means that unauthorized individuals or entities cannot obtain confidential data, providing a high level of confidentiality.

(2) Data integrity: Cryptography can ensure that data is not tampered with or altered during transmission or storage. This is accomplished through the use of digital signatures and message authentication codes, which detect changes in the data.

(3) Authentication: Cryptography can be used to verify the identity of a person or system. This is done through the use of digital certificates and public key infrastructure (PKI), which can ensure that only authorized parties can access sensitive information.

(4) Non-repudiation: Cryptography provides non-repudiation, which means that a sender cannot deny sending a message and a receiver cannot deny receiving a message. This is achieved through the use of digital signatures and other cryptographic techniques.

(5) Secure communication: Cryptography can ensure that communication between two parties is secure and private. This is accomplished through the use of encryption, which converts plaintext into ciphertext that can only be read by authorized parties.

Overall, cryptography provides a secure and private means of communication and data transmission, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of sensitive information.

What is Zero-Knowledge Encryption?

Zero-knowledge encryption, also known as zero-knowledge proofs, is a type of encryption that enables two parties to verify their identities and share information without revealing any sensitive data. In zero-knowledge encryption, one party, known as the prover, convinces the other party, known as the verifier, that they possess a certain piece of information without revealing the information itself.

For example, suppose Alice wants to prove to Bob that she knows the password to a certain account, but she doesn’t want to reveal the password itself. In zero-knowledge encryption, Alice can use a proof system to convince Bob that she knows the password without actually revealing it. This is done through a series of mathematical computations that prove to Bob that Alice possesses the password without actually revealing the password to him.

Zero-knowledge encryption is particularly useful in situations where privacy and security are of the utmost importance, such as in online banking, secure messaging, and other sensitive applications. It can help ensure that sensitive data remains confidential while still allowing for verification and authentication between parties.

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