Cryptographic Authentication

  

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Introduction

Cryptography is a method of storing and transmitting data in a form that only those it is intended for can read and process. It is a science of protecting information by encoding it into an unreadable format. Cryptography is an effective way of protecting sensitive information as it is stored on media or transmitted through network communication paths. Although the ultimate goal of cryptography, and the mechanisms that make it up, is to hide information from un-authorized individuals, most algorithms can be broken and the information can be revealed if the attacker has enough time, desire, and resources. So a more realistic goal of cryptography is to make obtaining the information too work-intensive to be worth it to the attacker.

The first encryption methods date back to 4,000 years ago and were considered more of an ancient art. As encryption evolved, it was mainly used to pass messages through hostile environments of war, crisis, and for negotiation processes between conflicting groups of people. Throughout history, individuals and governments have worked to protect communication by encrypting it. As time went on, the encryption algorithms and the devices that used them increased in complexity, new methods and algorithms were continually introduced, and it became an integrated part of the computing world.

Cryptography Definitions

  •  Algorithm Set of mathematical rules used in encryption and decryption
  • Cryptography Science of secret writing that enables you to store and transmit data in a form that is available only to the intended individuals
  • Cryptosystem Hardware or software implementation of cryptography that transforms a message to cipher text and back to plaintext
  • Cryptanalysis Practice of obtaining plaintext from cipher text without a key or breaking the the encryption
  • Cryptology The study of both cryptography and cryptanalysis
  • Cipher text Data in encrypted or unreadable format
  • Encipher Act of transforming data into an unreadable format
  • Decipher Act of transforming data into a readable format
  • Key Secret sequence of bits and instructions that governs the act of encryption and decryption

Conclusion

  1. User authentication can be handled using one or more different authentication methods. Some authentication methods such as plain password authentication are easily implemented but are in general weak and primitive.
  2. The fact that plain password authentication it is still by far the most widely used form of authentication, gives credence to the seriousness of the lack of security on both the Internet and within private networks
  3. Other methods of authentication, that may be more complex and require more time to implement and maintain, provide strong and reliable authentication (provided one keeps its secrets secret, i.e. private keys and phrases).