Sunday, 11 September 2022

Knowing and Protecting Your Data

Computer circuitry has crept into nearly everything we use nowadays, and almost all of which gather information from us and about us. As a result, the present is immersed in copious amounts of data, which is stored somewhere and, most of the time, not securely protected. 

Today we are almost entirely reliant on IT departments at work; practically all organisations depend on enterprise-wide applications to support numerous key business processes which create a mountain of information. Needless to say, IT infrastructure and business applications are increasingly — and usually, unnecessarily — more complex; complexity is the worst enemy of security — and sometimes, of performance too. As a consequence, we are losing more control of storage and, therefore, security. The more data we share, the bigger the security risk is. 

Companies always strive to successfully harness the power of data, but unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to securely accessing data. There are laws about protecting information, but most people are either blissfully unaware of them or careless about them. Many of us know what could happen when our data end up in the wrong hands.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Cryptology vs. Cryptography vs. Cryptanalysis. What's the Difference?

Although the words cryptology, cryptography and cryptanalysis are used interchangeably — strictly speaking — they mean different things. Nowadays, we only use the word cryptography for everything; it's indeed a catch-all for a broad range of intertwined topics. Today’s post not only aims to point out the differences among them but also to show their connections to each other.

To begin with, cryptology is the mathematics, algorithms, and the applications of formulas that underpins cryptography and cryptanalysis. The world of cryptology goes from basic foundations in cryptography (code-making) to modern algebraic cryptanalysis (code-breaking). So, cryptology is clearly divided into two major parts: cryptography and cryptanalysis; with strong connections to each other, which include cryptographic applications, types of cryptography and their algorithms, code-breaking techniques, information theory, number theory and mathematical applications to encrypt data and also break ciphers. 

Monday, 26 April 2021

Curious About Cryptographic Boolean Functions?

In order to have a good understanding of cryptographic Boolean functions, let's get started from scratch, that's, having a look at the very basic concepts. To begin with, all modern computers are composed of very basic logic circuits using very basic gates, called operators which only apply to binary numbers, in other words, 0 and 1. Each type of gate implements a Boolean operation. The finite field ${\mathbb F}_{2}=\{0,1\}$ is also called binary field, and it is of special interest because it is particularly efficient for implementation in hardware or on a binary computer. Using these gates, the rules of Boolean algebra may be applied to design circuits that perform a variety of tasks. For example, integrated circuits. Then, these circuits are all put together to build into more powerful modern computers. 

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Exploring What a PhD Is Like

Some weeks ago, it was my pleasure, and honour, to be invited to participate as a panellist in the online event Explore What a PhD is Like organised by PhD Social Support Network from Loughborough University. The event aimed to give undergraduate and postgraduate students a summary of Doctoral Researchers’ lives and an idea of what it’s like to do a PhD at Loughborough University.

With so much confusing and contradictory information out there, it becomes a bit difficult to have a good understanding of many things before embarking on doing a PhD. So I decided to write down my answers for those of you who could not attend the event and are interested in doing a PhD. Because we were four panellists, I just answered some questions, but in this post, I share my answers to all questions, which mainly depend on my personal circumstances and experiences at Loughborough University — And I do hope to help clear some things up. In case that you have any other questions, please let me know in the comment section.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Cryptography is Everywhere

Historically, cryptography was used for secret communication by exclusive sectors only — such as governments, military and spies — since it was crucial and affordable to them. They have long been aware of the consequences of their messages falling into the wrong hands; therefore, this situation has motivated the development of techniques for disguising a message so that only the intended recipient can read it. 
The huge desire for secrecy led nations, kings, and queens to make all-out efforts to ensure the security of communications by inventing the best possible secret codes and ciphers. 
A lover in Victorian times
As the public also became aware of the need to protect personal messages of a highly sensitive nature, they also became comfortable with encipherment. They began to express their cryptographic skills in a variety of ways — for example, young lovers in Victorian England were often forbidden from publicly expressing their affection, and could not even communicate by letter in case their parents intercepted and read the contents. This resulted in lovers sending encrypted messages to each other via the personal columns of newspapers, more specifically, via the classified ads. 

Friday, 5 March 2021

Do You Want to Be a Cryptographer?

Alan Turing
Alan Turing
I've always been interested in information security since 2003, but it wasn't until I enrolled on the cryptography module — while studying for a Master in Advanced Computer Science in England in 2018— that I started getting more keen on the mathematical side of cryptography; perhaps it was in part because I cherish mathematics and had the right cryptography teacher. What's more, I admire Alan Turing since he strove to do good work in difficult conditions during World War II; his work saved millions of lives. All of these things together inspired me to immerse myself in the world of cryptography. 

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Don't Place the Blame on SQL Server

I have never worked for Microsoft, but SQL Server has given me a lot in terms of learning, community and opportunities, all these together have helped me do a great job as a Database Administrator (DBA) for many years. Since I started working with SQL Server nearly 15 years ago, I have heard a lot of complaints about SQL Server being nowhere near as good as Oracle. Much as I would have liked to ignore these fruitless discussions, I couldn't see the point of comparing products in such a compulsive way. Is it not true that our skills are more crucial than the technology itself? — Or perhaps some people just try to find something to blame. Whatever the case, I am convinced that we, as database professionals, are compelled to make the most out of any specific database technology. 
No matter what technology we are working with, we are at the wheel — technology is just a tool — so it is not the best to blame technology on the ground of one's inefficiency.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Installing a stand-alone SQL Server 2017 instance step by step

Undoubtedly, many of us have the task of installing a new stand-alone SQL Server instance which includes the database engine service only. For instance, it can primarily be needed for dedicated and consolidated OLTP environments. Consequently, we can be asked to create a formal document for others so that they can easily follow it for future installations and standard configurations.

Today's post is going to outline the process of installing a basic stand-alone SQL Server 2017 instance. This process is just a basic guideline and, surely, not a rule for each installation, because it is fully understood that every environment is different and needs a customised installation to meet very specific requirements. You can read the whole tip about it at mssqltips here https://www.mssqltips.com/sqlservertip/5616/steps-to-install-a-standalone-sql-server-2017-instance. I hope you find it very useful and practical. That's all for now. Please let me know any remarks you may have. Stay tuned!
HELLO, I'M PERCY REYES! — a book lover, healthy lifestyle lover... I've been working as a senior SQL Server Database Administrator (DBA) for over 20 years; I'm a three-time awarded Microsoft Data Platform MVP. I'm currently doing a PhD in Computer Science (cryptography) at Loughborough University, England — working on cryptographic Boolean functions, algorithmic cryptanalysis, number theory, and other algebraic aspects of cryptography. READ MORE