The fundamentals of crytography and its unique applications

5:18 pm
December 18, 2023

Cryptography, derived from the Greek words for “hidden writing,” is an essential aspect of our digital world with the purpose of obscuring transmitted information so that it may only be accessible by the intended recipient, protecting sensitive data from hackers and other cybercriminals. The applications of cryptography are diverse, ranging from end-to-end message authentication on messaging apps to securing digital signatures on legal documents.

The science of cryptology dates back to ancient times and the core features of strong cryptographic frameworks include confidentiality, integrity, non-repudiation, authentication, and key management.

Three categories of encryption

Most encryption techniques fall into one of three main categories: symmetric cryptography algorithms, asymmetric cryptography algorithms, or hash functions.

Symmetric key cryptography

Symmetric key encryption uses only one key for both the encryption process and decryption process. There are two types of symmetric key algorithms: block cipher and stream cipher. Some examples of symmetrical cryptography include DES, Triple DES, Blowfish, and AES.

Asymmetric key cryptography

In asymmetric encryption, a pair of keys is used: one secret key and one public key. Some examples of asymmetrical cryptography include RSA and ECC.

One-way hash algorithms

A cryptographic hash algorithm produces a fixed-length output string from a variable-length input string, ensuring data integrity and security. Hash algorithms make for very effective cryptosystems because the plaintext is its own key.

The future of cryptography

Quantum cryptography

Quantum cryptography, or quantum encryption, refers to the applied science of securely encrypting and transmitting data based on the immutable laws of quantum mechanics for use in cybersecurity. It has the potential to be far more secure than previous types of cryptographic algorithms.

Post-quantum cryptography

Post-quantum cryptographic algorithms use different types of mathematical cryptography to create quantum computer-proof encryption, aiming to develop cryptographic systems that are secure against both quantum and classical computers.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the goal of post-quantum cryptography (PQC) is to “develop cryptographic systems that are secure against both quantum and classical computers, and [that] can interoperate with existing communications protocols and networks.”

The six primary areas of quantum-safe cryptography are lattice-based cryptography, multivariate cryptography, hash-based cryptography, code-based cryptography, isogeny-based cryptography, and symmetric key quantum resistance.

Learn how IBM cryptography solutions help businesses guard critical data

IBM cryptography solutions combine technologies, consulting, systems integration, and managed security services to help ensure crypto agility, quantum-safety, and solid governance and risk policies. From symmetric to asymmetric cryptography to hash functions and beyond, ensure data and mainframe security with end-to-end encryption tailor-made to meet your business needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the applications of cryptography?

Cryptography has diverse applications including end-to-end message authentication, securing digital signatures on legal documents, and protecting sensitive data from cybercriminals.

What are the core features of strong cryptographic frameworks?

The core features of strong cryptographic frameworks include confidentiality, integrity, non-repudiation, authentication, and key management.

What are the three main categories of encryption?

The three main categories of encryption are symmetric cryptography algorithms, asymmetric cryptography algorithms, and hash functions.

What are the primary areas of quantum-safe cryptography?

The six primary areas of quantum-safe cryptography are lattice-based cryptography, multivariate cryptography, hash-based cryptography, code-based cryptography, isogeny-based cryptography, and symmetric key quantum resistance.


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