Nowadays, the word “crypto” has become quite a buzzword in the digital world. With the emergence of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies back in 2009, the term “crypto” has been closely associated with them. After all, one of the most popular topics today all over the Internet is about cryptocurrencies, their technology, and their intended purpose.
However, the reality is that the word “crypto” actually meant cryptography and cryptanalysis, which are the two vital aspects of cryptology. For those of you who don’t know, cryptology, alongside cryptography and cryptanalysis, became very popular during World War II, as it was used to send and receive sensitive information that was not easy to decipher. Today, cryptology is centered around cryptocurrencies as they use cryptographic technologies to enable anonymous and secured peer-to-peer transactions. So, in a sense, cryptocurrency stayed true to its origins.
This technology made both the blockchain and cryptocurrencies possible, to begin with, and made them decentralized from financial institutions and government regulations. But that’s not all; cryptography is omnipresent these days as it’s used to encrypt data being transmitted from one point to another, such s communication between a user’s computer and a website. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about cryptology, cryptography and cryptanalysis.
The history of Cryptology
Cryptology is the science of secure communications, more precisely, their study and practice. It’s the practice of encoding messages using cyphers so that message comes out as gibberish for those who don’t know the cypher to decipher and translate the message. Although cryptology has been around for thousands of years, what we call classical cryptology became well-known with the creation of the Enigma rotor machine by Nazi Germany during WWII.
Now, before we go any further, it’s important to note that cryptology is often referred to as cryptography. The fact of the matter is that cryptology encompasses both cryptography and cryptanalysis, which is about making and breaking the codes, respectively. Therefore, cryptology, which uses both methods, is basically a mathematical study of codes, cyphers and algorithms.
That being said, the earliest known use of cryptography is found in hieroglyphs all across the old Egyptian empire. This cryptographic encryption still puzzles scientists today. Although some texts have been deciphered, it’s still unclear if the translation is any good as there’s no reference point to compare it to. Ancient Egyptians used symbols in their cryptology which still haven’t been decoded thousands of years later.
Moreover, clay tablets dating from ancient Mesopotamia have clearly been designed to encrypt messages on them. One such tablet dated near 1500 BC was found to encrypt a craftsman’s recipe for pottery glaze. Therefore, even the people in ancient times firmly believed that some information should be kept from prying eyes. That’s why cryptology was invented and how it has been used for thousands of years, dating all the way to this very day.
The history of Cryptography
To analyze the history of cryptography, we must not neglect to mention the father of modern computer science Alan Turing. Alan was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. During the WWII, Alan Turing was able to break the infamous Enigma code, thus gaining access to German communications, which provided a significant advantage to the Allied troops during the war.
Even though the Polish were the ones who managed to capture and decode the Enigma machine, it was Alan’s computer called the Bombe that was able to decipher Enigma more efficiently. His knowledge of cryptography and cryptanalysis not only helped the Allies get the information the Germans were so cleverly trying to hide but also helped feed the Nazi Germany false information about Allied operations during the war.
Alan’s work was in no small part responsible for the successful landing of Allied troops on the cost of Normandy during the D-Day back in 1944. After the war, Alan’s work paved the way towards modern computer science and the technology we use today including cryptography used in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Unfortunately, his work went without proper credit and recognition for many years because he was prosecuted as a homosexual, even though he directly helped save millions of lives.
The history of Cryptanalysis
Cryptography and cryptanalysis closely correlate with each other both historically and practically. Where cryptography is used to create codes, cyphers, and algorithms, cryptanalysis is used to break them. Cryptanalysis methods have the purpose of creating an attack that will break the encryption algorithm without the need for an encryption key. That being said, cryptanalysis is the direct opposite of cryptography. But still, they are both based on the same principles and have, therefore, been closely tied ever since they were created.
However, in most cases, cryptanalytic methods identify weaknesses in the implementation or even the design of the algorithm. That way, someone can listen to the encrypted communication without notifying anyone about the breach. As mentioned before, cryptanalysis played a pivotal role during WWII, but its purpose remained the same today. Many governments and individuals alike use cryptanalysis to break codes and obtain secret information.
More importantly, many cryptologists today use cryptanalysis to identify, strengthen or even replace vulnerable algorithms while creating cryptographic cyphers and codes. That being said, there can be no cryptology without cryptanalysis and cryptography combined together to serve a specific purpose, such as the creation of cryptocurrencies we all know and use today.
How do cryptology, cryptography, and cryptanalysis differ from each other?
The fact of the matter is that they don’t differ from each other. The reality is that cryptology, cryptography and cryptanalysis all have different perspectives toward the same objective. Where one is designed to create codes, the other is used to break them, as mentioned before—however, the third monitors the previous two to create more effective solutions and security measures.
You cannot know if the encryption is good unless you try and break into it. And if you do, you’ll learn how to fix any vulnerabilities in the system or network. So the cycle continues endlessly. That’s why whenever a new security measure is developed, it doesn’t take long for hackers to breach it. So as technology evolves, so does cryptography, cryptanalysis and cryptology grow with it.
A good example of this is used today when companies perform the so-called penetration testing on their company network or security measures. They usually hire a cryptography expert to develop security measures and encryptions, as well as a cryptanalyst who will try to penetrate the system. This helps companies and businesses find weak spots in their network, encryptions and other security measures to improve or closely monitor activity around those weaknesses.
How have cryptology, cryptography, and cryptanalysis evolved over time?
The purpose of cryptanalyst, cryptography and cryptology pretty much remained the same as they don’t really have any other purpose to begin with. However, the technology that uses these practices has significantly evolved, especially since WWII. This is mostly due to the fact that the technology that powers them is much more advanced than Alan Turing’s Bombe, for example. This led to us now having stronger and more sophisticated cryptology.
In other words, everything has changed drastically in just a couple of decades. We’ve come from using an 8-bit encryption ciphers and keys to using a 128-bit encryption ciphers that can have approximately 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 unique keys.
This basically means that encryption methods have evolved greatly but so have their counterparts. So, when you look at the big picture, cryptology is where it’s always been, with the only difference being that cryptography and cryptanalysis are much more advanced today than they were back during WWII. Knowing this, it becomes quite obvious that cryptology, cryptography and cryptanalysis really only evolved naturally – from their early days – alongside ever-evolving modern technology.
What challenges does the future hold for cryptology, cryptography, and cryptanalysis?
One of the challenges that the future holds for cryptology is keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of technology. As new technologies are developed, cryptographers must find new ways to protect information. For example, quantum computers could potentially break many of the current encryption schemes that are used today.
On the other hand, the same technology can create new encryption models. Cryptographers must, therefore, develop new encryption methods that can withstand quantum computers’ power. Although it’s likely that this technology will come to cryptographers before they reach hackers, you never know.
Another challenge for cryptology is protecting information in an increasingly connected world. With the rise of the Internet of Things, more and more devices are being connected to the internet. This creates new opportunities for attackers to gain access to sensitive information. Cryptographers must therefore develop new ways to secure data both in transit and at rest.
Last but not least, cryptologists must also be aware of social and political changes that could impact their work. For example, changes in government policy could impact the use of cryptography in certain countries. Cryptographers must therefore be able to adapt their methods to comply with changing laws and regulations.
How cryptography is used today
In recent years, cryptography has become increasingly important due to the rise of electronic communications. Cryptography today is more or less the practice of secure communication in the presence of third parties. Even though it has a long history, dating back to ancient times, and has been used in various ways, it’s still pretty much the same today.
With the advent of the Internet and other forms of electronic communication, there was a need for secure methods of communication that could protect the privacy of those involved. Cryptography is used in a variety of ways today. One everyday use is in email encryption, which is used to protect the contents of email messages from being read by anyone other than the intended recipient.
Cryptography is also used to protect information stored on computers and transmitted over networks. In addition, everyday use for cryptography is in digital signatures, which are used to verify the identity of the sender of a message or document. Cryptography is also used to create virtual private networks (VPNs), which are used to connect two or more computer networks securely. Be that as it may, people are not as aware of those things as much as they’re aware of cryptocurrencies, which is a prime example of how cryptography is being used today.
Everyone has heard about cryptocurrencies because this is the topic most commonly talked about. When you hear about a decentralized system and currencies that aren’t tied to fiat money or financial institutions, it’s logical that you’d show interest in those. As far as cryptography goes for technology that powers cryptocurrencies, otherwise known as the blockchain, this technology is pretty much invulnerable.
In other words, there isn’t enough computing power in the world today that can breach the blockchain, at least not yet. However, crypto wallets, on the other hand, rely on less sophisticated encryption methods and are prone to attacks. So when someone’s crypto wallet gets breached, and their assets are stolen, people usually assume that the blockchain has been beached, and that’s why they lost their digital currencies. This shows how little people actually know about cryptography, cryptology or cryptanalysis in general.
As mentioned before, cryptology is the study of secure communication, and cryptography and cryptanalysis are the two most vital aspects. Cryptology dates all the way back to ancient times and has always been considered critical in protecting sensitive information of any kind and level of importance. Although cryptography played a vital role during World War Two, its principles remain the same to this very day. The only difference is that modern means of encrypting data and communications are much more advanced and sophisticated than they were back in the day when they were originally invented.