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Cyrptography and Network Security

Network security concerns itself with the protection of networks against unauthorized access or surveillance.  Network security protocols defend the network against malware, alteration of its programs or the deletion of important files. Cryptography and subsequently encryption are one of the most of the most important aspects of network security.

Cryptology concerns itself with securing communication by translating the transmitted data into illegible or irrecoverable information. The data that is encrypted using cryptology can only be decrypted using a specific key. Only when the data is decrypted using the key can the information be read and processed. Another main feature of cryptography is the authentication and certification of user and data.

Three Types of Cryptography

There are three common types of cryptographic functions which are used to encrypt and decrypt information. The features of these three cryptographies are mentioned below.

  • Secret Key Cryptography - In this kind of cryptography both the sender of the data and the receiver has the same cryptographic key that can be used to "unlock" or decrypt the data and extract the information. The data is encrypted using a cryptographic algorithm and there is only one key for decryption. This method of cryptography is useful if the numbers of communicating parties are limited. The distribution of a single to a large number of parties comprises the security of this cryptographic solution.  There are certain international standards that are used by such secret key cryptography.

  • Public key cryptography - Also known as asymmetric encryption uses more than one key for encryption and another set of keys for decryption. The two sets of keys work in synch with each other with the combination of public and private keys. Public keys can be shared between the sender and the receiver of the data. If they want to limit the access of data and maintain confidentiality, then they can only distribute the private keys. The RSA digital signature algorithm is used for the distribution and operation of the public keys.

  • Hash Functions - Hash functions are used to mathematically transform the information permanently in order to protect it from unauthorized surveillance. This permanent encryption is known as one-way encryption or message-digesting. Hash functions employ a form of digital signature to encrypt information and are most often used by operating systems to protect passwords and measure the integrity of files. RIPEMD and other forms of secure hash functions are used to for encrypting the information.

Related Article: Types of Cryptographic Attacks

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