As we all live in an age defined by keeping our information secure, it is no doubt that cryptography has become an important aspect of our daily lives, whether we realise it or not. Every time we send or receive information, this data is generally encrypted so as not to be easily viewed by unwanted third parties. Although we may take such technology for granted, it is important to realise that these systems have a long and interesting history. Let us look at the brief story of cryptography.

Letter C, alphabet from binary code symbolizing Cryptography

Computer cryptography can roughly be dated to World War II

The History of Cryptography

Computer cryptography can roughly be dated to World War II and the efforts of the mathematicians at Bletchley Park. As the result of their wartime code breaking efforts, the first fully electronic computer was born. Nicknamed “Colossus”, this device helped with the decryption of many high-level German transmissions. While the importance of cryptography was realised, it was not until the mid-1970’s when the company IBM created the first algorithm that became the data encryption standard for the United States at that time. Since then, steady advances have been made in this field and it should be of no surprise the these codes and systems have become increasingly complex.

The Modern Applications of Cryptography

Whether one wishes to send sensitive personal information via email or a company needs to encode its latest findings regarding a potentially massive oil reserve, this data needs to be kept away from prying eyes. Modern encryption techniques include a wide number of methods including a means by which only the sender and receiver share the same key, electronically variable algorithms that change over a specific period of time and other varieties such as block cypher designs which are commonly used in ATM machines as well as secure email communications.

Cryptography has become an essential part of our daily communications whether we are aware of it or not. As times change and computers become more advanced, it only stands to reason that higher levels of cryptography will also be employed. Indeed, the wizards behind the proverbial curtain for many of our daily operations are the tiny programs that most of us are unaware even exist.

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