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Encryption: Hiding The Treasure

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#1 TheSentinel


    The man in the dark

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 11:21 AM

Encryption: Hiding The Treasure

Joe Purcell
Staff Writer

The treasure hunter has found your treasure map, they have your password, and they know where your treasure is. Behold, there is a second line of defense: encryption! Encryption is like hiding your treasure or obscuring it in some way so that when hunters get to your treasure they can't find it, or they've found it, but don't know how to understand it.

First, let's get an idea of what encryption is. In its essence, encryption is transforming information using a cryptic algorithm into a cipher. There are endless possibilities for encryption methods. Look at a basic example, take the word "secret" and let our cryptic algorithm be incrementing each letter by 1 in the alphabet, which produces the cipher "tfdsfu". Decode the cipher by decreasing each letter by 1 in the alphabet. Take Morse code as another example. The first example is a block cipher, and the second a stream cipher. The first is what we will be looking at, which digests chunks of data with set length, whereas stream ciphers are used for steam communications like phone conversations.

The most popular block cipher standards are the Data Encryption Standard (DES) and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). DES was developed by IBM and became standard in 1979. Only in 2001 was it replaced by AES which was adopted from the Rijndael method developed by two Belgian cryptographers, Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen. These methods take a key (a password) and transform chunks of data into a cipher, resulting in a block of data composed of these encrypted chunks strung together. The more bits involved in the key and block result in a stronger encryption, similar to a longer password resulting in a stronger one.