Evolution of cryptography


Encryption and decryption

Data Encryption Standard

Public key cryptography

Symmetric key Cryptography








In a groundbreaking 1976 paper, Whitfield Difie and  Martin Hellman proposed the notion of public-key (also, more generally, called asymmetric key) cryptography in which two different but mathematically related keys are used — a public key and a private key. A public key system is so constructed that calculation of one key (the 'private key') is computationally infeasible from the other (the 'public key'), even though they are necessarily related. Instead, both keys are generated secretly, as an interrelated pair.The

historian ‘David Kahn’ described public-key cryptography as “the most revolutionary new concept in the field since polyalphabetic substitution emerged”. 


·        In public-key cryptosystems, the public key may be freely distributed, while its paired private key must remain secret. The public key is typically used for encryption, while the private or secret key is used for decryption. In 1997, it finally became publicly known that asymmetric key cryptography had been invented by James H Ellisat GCHQ, a British intelligence organization, in the early 1970s.

·        In addition to encryption, public-key cryptography can be used to implement digital signature schemes. A digital signature is reminiscent of an ordinary signature; they both have the characteristic that they are easy for a user to produce.Digital signatures can also be permanently tied to the content of the message being signed; they cannot be 'moved' from one document to another, for any attempt will be detectable. In digital signature schemes, there are two algorithms: one for signing, in which a secret key is used to process the message (or a hash of the message, or both), and one for verification, in which the matching public key is used with the message to check the validity of the signature. RSA and DSA are two of the most popular digital signature.         

·        Public-key algorithms are most often based on the computational complexity of "hard" problems, often fromnumber theory. For example, the hardness of RSA is related to the integer factorization problem, while Diffie-Hellman and DSA are related to the discrete algorithm problem. More recently, elliptic curve cryptography has developed in which security is based on number theoretic problems involving elliptic curves. Because of the difficulty of the underlying problems, most public-key algorithms involve operations such as modular multiplication and exponentiation, which are much more computationally expensive than the techniques used in most block ciphers, especially with typical key sizes. As a result, public-key cryptosystems are commonlyhybrid cryptosystems, in which a fast high-quality symmetric-key encryption algorithm is used for the message itself, while the relevant symmetric key is sent with the message, but encrypted using a public-key algorithm. Similarly, hybrid signature schemes are often used, in which a cryptographic hash function is computed, and only the resulting hash is digitally signed.


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