The origin of the word cryptology lies in ancient Greek. The word cryptology is made up of two components: kryptos, which means hidden and logos which means word. Cryptology is as old as writing itself, and has been used for thousands of years to safeguard military and diplomatic communications. For example, the famous Roman emperor Julius Caesar used a cipher to protect the messages to his troops. Within the field of cryptology one can see two separate divisions: cryptography and cryptanalysis. The cryptographer seeks methods to ensure the safety and security of conversations while the cryptanalyst tries to undo the former’s work by breaking his systems.
The main goals of modern cryptography can be seen as: user authentication, data authentication, non-repudiation of origin, and data confidentiality.
In today’s society, cryptography is one of tools for privacy & trust. It is used extensively for access control, electronic payments, enterprise security besides other areas.
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Key management and conventional encryption
Conventional encryption has benefits. It is very fast. It is especially useful for encrypting data that is not going anywhere. However, conventional encryption alone as a means for transmitting secure data can be quite expensive simply due to the difficulty of secure key distribution.
Recall a character from your favorite spy movie: the person with a locked briefcase handcuffed to his or her wrist. What is in the briefcase, anyway? It’s probably not the secret plan itself. It’s the key that will decrypt the secret data.
For a sender and recipient to communicate securely using conventional encryption, they must agree upon a key and keep it secret between them- selves. If they are in different physical locations, they must trust a courier, the Bat Phone, or some other secure communications medium to prevent the disclosure of the secret key during transmission.
Anyone who overhears or intercepts the key in transit can later read, modify, and forge all information encrypted or authenticated with that key. From DES to Captain Midnight’s Secret Decoder Ring, the persistent problem with con- ventional encryption is key distribution: how do you get the key to the recipi- ent without someone intercepting it?
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