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Cryptography

Cryptography, the encoding of messages to render them unreadable by anyone other than their intended recipient(s), is centuries old. The "Caesar Cipher" is so named because it was used by Julius Caesar. With the advent of modern computer technology, many of these older ciphers became trivially crackable using brute-force attacks. Modern cryptography, essential to the security of computer networks, is done with complex algorithms implemented on high speed computer systems. Generally speaking, computer cryptographic tasks can be broken into two general categories: encryption and authentication.

Encryption

Authentication

Often, much attention is given to the algorithm, and little paid to the key. In fact, just as with login passwords, cryptographic systems are only as secure as their keys, making key management a critical and oft neglected concern. Certificates have emerged as a clever way of managing large scale key distribution.

RSA Laboratory's Cryptography FAQ is an excellent reference source on cryptography.




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