What is Encryption?

Networking/Security Forums -> Cryptographic Theory and Cryptanalysis - Internal and Transmission Security

Author: Fire AntLocation: London PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:49 pm    Post subject: What is Encryption?
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Admin Note: A sock-puppet spammer attempted to set up a thread with the below post. Although we had to remove the thread, we felt matt_s's reply was worth keeping for the benefit of the membership.

Others may wish to add their understanding and thoughts to this as well...

Here is the original question, and matt's reply:


the topic is Data Protection and Encryption,in my opinion encryption is,

"The translation of data into a secret code. Encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it. Unencrypted data is called plain text ; encrypted data is referred to as cipher text.

The use of encryption/decryption is as old as the art of communication. In wartime, a cipher, often incorrectly called a "code," can be employed to keep the enemy from obtaining the contents of transmissions. (Technically, a code is a means of representing a signal without the intent of keeping it secret; examples are Morse code and ASCII.) Simple ciphers include the substitution of letters for numbers, the rotation of letters in the alphabet, and the "scrambling" of voice signals by inverting the sideband frequencies. More complex ciphers work according to sophisticated computer algorithms that rearrange the data bits in digital signals.

Encryption/decryption is especially important in wireless communications. This is because wireless circuits are easier to"tap" than their hard-wired counterparts. Nevertheless,encryption/decryption is a good idea when carrying out any kind of sensitive transaction, such as a credit-card purchase online,or the discussion of a company secret between different departments in the organization. The stronger the cipher -- that is, the harder it is for unauthorized people to break it -- the better, in general. However, as the strength of encryption/decryption increases, so does the cost.

DO YOU PEOPLE REALLY THINK ENCRYPTION IS IMPORTANT IN WIRELESS COMMUNICATION...OR JUST LIKE THE ARMY USES DIFFERENT CODES FOR ENCRYPTION,IS THERE ANY WAY THAT WE CAN ENCRYPT OUT PERSONAL DOCUMENTS AND FILES.


I certainly wouldn't say that encryption is
Quote:
The translation of data into a secret code
. I am bit of a purest when it comes to this. I think Wiki has a good definition on what encryption actually is. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encryption

If what you say is true about the definition of encryption then languages such as Egyptian hieroglyphics and Mayan writing would be considered codes.

Also,
Quote:
Encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security
. Certainly isn't the case. There are elements of public key cryptography which are sometimes even more important that encryption itself. Digital signing and non-repudiation are fundamental in today's communication systems. This was lacking in the days of the WW2. Imagine Alice sends Bob and encrypted message but the message is intercepted by a hacker and altered. Bob receives the altered message, how does he know that the message hasn't been tampered with, how does he even know that Alice is really Alice? This is where digital signing and non-repudiation come in.

There are 3 fundamental facets to cryptography, confidentiality (aka encryption), integrity (digital signing ), authenticity (non-repudiation). Encryption is just one of three important points.

Quote:
However, as the strength of encryption/decryption increases, so does the cost.


Not true, in fact the reverse is true, as Moores law has shown that the power of computers doubles every 18 months. This means that I can encrypt quicker now than I could 10 years ago. In addition, the price of computers has been driven down by cheaper component prices and shifting manufacturing outside of the US etc.

Quote:
IS THERE ANY WAY THAT WE CAN ENCRYPT OUT PERSONAL DOCUMENTS AND FILES.


Yes, PGP, TrueCrypt are two products but there are many others. EFS (Encrypting File System) is integrated into Windows.

Quote:
DO YOU PEOPLE REALLY THINK ENCRYPTION IS IMPORTANT IN WIRELESS COMMUNICATION
.

Yes, but not only encryption, also integrity and authenticity.

Matt_s



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