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An Introduction to Cryptography: How Encryption Works

Cryptography is the science of encoding and decoding data for communication, storage, or transmission. It is used to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access and ensure its authenticity. At its core, cryptography is the practice of creating and using codes to keep information safe from unwanted eyes.

Cryptography’s history dates back thousands of years, with the earliest known examples appearing in Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Roman Empire. In modern times, cryptography has become a critical part of digital security in the form of encryption. Encryption is the process of encoding data with a key so that it can only be decrypted and read by the intended recipient.

The primary goal of cryptography is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of data. This means that the data is kept confidential from anyone other than the intended recipient, and the data is not modified in any way when it is transmitted. Additionally, the data is authenticated so that the recipient can be sure that the data is coming from the original sender.

Encryption is the process of transforming data into a form that is unreadable to anyone other than the intended recipient. This is done by using an algorithm, known as a cipher, to scramble the data. The cipher is a mathematical formula that takes plaintext, or readable data, and encrypts it using a key. The key is a secret value that is used to encrypt and decrypt the data.

The most common type of encryption is symmetric encryption, which uses the same key for encryption and decryption. Symmetric encryption is simple and efficient, but it requires that both the sender and the recipient have the same key. Asymmetric encryption, or public-key encryption, is more secure as it uses different keys for encryption and decryption. The sender encrypts the data with the recipient’s public key and the recipient decrypts it with their private key.

Cryptography is an essential component of digital security, and it is used to protect data that is transmitted over the internet or stored on computers and other devices. Encryption ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of data, making it a critical part of any system that needs to keep information secure.

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