I did not blog yesterday due to being ill . . . but here we go today!!! Cryptography is a topic that I have written about before, and have promised to explore more fully for the longest time. So today, I make this into a reality for all of my readers.
Keep in mind that Cryptography can be an extremely complex science, filled with even more complex mathematical formulas and algorithms. Don’t worry, I won’t get into all of this techno because quite frankly, it is all unneeded. As small business or individuals, you just need to know the basics so that you can understand what is out there in the market place in terms of software packages, and deploy what is needed for your organization.
This will be the first of many of these “so-called” weekend blogs. This first one deals with just breaking down the process of scrambling and descrambling a simple message from sender to receiver:
Cryptography dates all the way to the back to the times of Julius Caesar. In its simplest terms, the science of Cryptography is merely the scrambling and the descrambling of written messages between two individual parties.
These individual parties can also be referred to as the sender and the receiver. It is the former which creates the text and scrambles it into an undecipherable state, and in turn, it is the latter which receives the text and unscrambles into a decipherable format.
A very simple example of this is that of “I LOVE YOU”. The sending party would scramble this message by rearranging the letters as “UYO I VEOL”. This message would then stay in this scrambled format while it is in transit, until it is received by the receiving party.
They would then descramble it, so it would read once again “I LOVE YOU”. So, if this message were to have been captured by a malicious third party, the content would be rendered as useless and totally undecipherable.
Specifically, Cryptography can be defined as “. . . creating written or generated codes that allow information to be kept secret. Cryptography converts data into a format that is unreadable for an unauthorized user, allowing it to be transmitted without unauthorized entities decoding it back into a readable format, thus compromising the data.” (SOURCE: https://www.techopedia.com/definition/1770/cryptography).
Scrambling and descrambling are also known as “encryption” and “decryption”, respectively. So, for instance, the written message of “I LOVE YOU”, when it is scrambled by the sending party, becomes what is known as the “encrypted message” (this is the encryption step). This simply means that it has been disguised in such a manner that it would be totally meaningless to an unauthorized recipient.
Now, when the receiving party receives this encrypted message, it must be descrambled into an understandable and comprehensible state of context. This process of descrambling is also known as “decryption”. There are specific terms which are used for the encrypted message as well as the decrypted message.
For example, the decrypted message, when it is returned back into its plain or original state of context, is also known as the “cleartext” or the “plaintext”. When the decrypted message is once again encrypted back into a garbled and undecipherable state, this becomes known as the “ciphertext”.
To illustrate all of this with the previous example, “I LOVE YOU” is the plaintext or the cleartext, and. “UYO I VEOL” is the ciphertext.
At this point, the question often gets asked is how does the sending party actually encrypt the plaintext and how does the receiving party then actually decrypt the ciphertext? The answer to this question will be examined in detail in a future blog. Stay tuned!