What is Cryptography?

The meaning of cryptography refers to the practice of securing communication through the use of mathematical algorithms and protocols that convert plain text messages into a coded or encrypted format that can only be decoded by authorized parties. The goal of cryptography is to ensure that a message is not read or altered by unauthorized individuals or entities.

Cryptography is used in a wide range of applications, including online transactions, data storage, and secure communications between individuals or organizations. In online transactions, cryptography is used to ensure that sensitive information such as credit card numbers and personal identification information is transmitted securely.

One of the most commonly used cryptographic techniques is public key cryptography, also known as asymmetric cryptography. This technique involves the use of two different keys - a public key that can be shared with anyone and a private key that is kept secret. Messages are encrypted with the public key, but can only be decrypted with the private key, which is known only to the intended recipient.

Another common cryptographic technique is symmetric cryptography, in which the same key is used for both encryption and decryption. While this technique is less secure than public key cryptography, it is often used for encrypting large amounts of data.

Simplified Example

Cryptography like a secret code that helps people keep their messages safe from anyone who shouldn't see them. Just like how you might use a secret code with your parents or friends to keep your messages secret from anyone else, cryptography uses special math tricks and computer programs to make sure that only the people you want to see your messages can understand them. It helps keep your important information, like your bank account number, safe when you're using your computer or phone.

History of the Term Cryptography

The earliest recorded use of the term "cryptography" can be traced back to the 15th century, where it appeared in various writings and discussions about secret writing techniques. However, the term gained wider recognition and usage in the 19th and 20th centuries as cryptography evolved into a more formal and sophisticated field of study.

In 1856, the term "cryptography" was first used in the English language in its modern sense in the New York Times. By the early 20th century, the term had been adopted by the military and intelligence communities to refer to the study of both cryptography (the art of creating secret messages) and cryptanalysis (the art of breaking secret messages).

The formalization of the term "cryptography" can be attributed to the work of Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, who published the book The Elements of Cryptology in 1949. This seminal work provided a rigorous mathematical foundation for cryptography and established its status as a distinct academic discipline.


Secure Online Transactions: Cryptography is used to secure online transactions, such as credit card payments, by encrypting the data exchanged between the customer's computer and the merchant's server. This helps ensure that sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and personal identification information, is transmitted securely and cannot be intercepted by unauthorized third parties.

Messaging Apps: Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal use cryptography to secure messages sent between users. Messages are encrypted on the sender's device and can only be decrypted by the intended recipient, ensuring that only the two parties can read the messages.

Passwords: Passwords are often encrypted using cryptographic techniques to ensure that they cannot be easily deciphered by hackers or other unauthorized individuals. When a user enters their password on a website or application, it is typically encrypted and stored in a database using a hashing algorithm, which makes it difficult for attackers to obtain the original password.

  • Cryptology: Cryptology is the study of cryptography and cryptanalysis, the methods used to protect and analyze secret information.

  • Public Key: Public key cryptography is an integral part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. It provides a secure means of transmitting and storing funds, while also enabling users to control access to their wallets.