Monday, 1 July 2019

Cryptography has become financially and technologically accessible

By Percy Reyes
Copyright (c) 2019 by Percy Reyes

Cryptology is the mathematics, algorithms, and the applications of formulas that underpins cryptography and cryptanalysis (Rouse, 2015). Historically, cryptography was used for secret communication by exclusive sectors only such as governments, military and spies because it was crucial and affordable to them. However, with the arrival of major advancements in science and technology, this field has played an extremely important role beyond military’s security, that is, cryptography has become financially and technologically accessible, and increasingly essential for ordinary people and companies resulting in a generally use for data security including confidentiality, integrity, authentication and non-repudiation.

Most significantly, as people 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 people 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 (Singh, 1999).

Nowadays, cryptography is not only about secret communication but also data security.  Just to give another example, it is commonly used for e-commerce especially electronic transactions in the banking system. Along with this, code breaking attacks have also been improved considerably so that cryptanalysis is as crucial as cryptography. Not only has cryptography had a beneficial impact on society, but it has also raised some issues related to human rights.

In this sense, cryptography has raised many human rights issues, ethical issues and also legal issues due to the fact that it can be used for good purposes but also for bad ones. Additionally, companies have a duty to protect data based on contract, laws, industry regulations related to Copyright and Digital Rights Management. Likewise, some governments have the right to request key disclosure either from the accused or from third parties. Not surprisingly, these issues are being addressed by the global movement Amnesty International which says Encryption is a matter of Human Rights (International, 2016). It basically means that people everywhere should be able to encrypt their communications and private personal data for the shake of their rights to privacy and free speech.

Therefore, cryptography has gone from a heuristic set of tools ensuring secret communication for the military to a science that helps secure systems for ordinary people across the globe, and at the same time it has also become a more central topic within computer science (Katz & Lindell, 2015). This the main reason why this research area of cryptology is appealing to me.  Other reasons have to do with the fact that cryptology is strongly linked to mathematics and C programming. These topics put together make cryptology very accessible and exciting to everybody.

Possibly, after reading this post you may consider becoming a cryptographer and you might want to read this post as well: https://www.percyreyes.com/2019/10/so-you-want-to-be-cryptographer.html.


REFERENCE LIST
Rouse, M., 2015. https://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/cryptology. [Online]
Available at: https://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/cryptology
[Accessed 3 4 2019].
Singh, S., 1999. The Code Book. First ed. s.l.:Fourth Estate Limited.
International, A., 2016. https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/encryption-a-matter-of-human-rights/. [Online]
Available at: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/encryption-a-matter-of-human-rights/
[Accessed 3 4 2019].
Katz, J. & Lindell, Y., 2015. Introduction to Modern Cryptography. s.l.:CRC Press.

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