Cryptography, the science of writing code and cryptography to ensure the security of information, is one of the most important factors contributing to the creation of cryptocurrencies and blockchains today. However, the encryption techniques used today are the result of an extremely long history of development. Since time immemorial, people have used cryptography to transmit information securely. The following is an interesting history of cryptography that has led to the advanced and sophisticated methods used in modern digital encryption.
Originated from ancient times
Early cryptographic techniques are known to exist in antiquity, when most early civilizations seem to have used cryptography to some degree. Symbolic substitution, the most basic form of encoding, occurs in both ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian scripts. The first known example of this type of cipher was found in the tomb of an Egyptian nobleman named Khnumhotep II, who lived about 3,900 years ago.
The purpose of replacing the symbolism in Knhumhotep’s tomb text was not to conceal information, but to increase its linguistic appeal. The first known example of cryptography being used to protect sensitive information was around 3,500 years ago when a scribe from Mesopotamia used cryptography to conceal a recipe for ceramic glaze, which was used on clay spreadsheets.
After antiquity, cryptography was widely used to protect important military information, and cryptography is still not used for this purpose to this day. In the Greek city-state of Sparta, messages were encrypted by writing on a parchment tape wrapped around a specific sized encryption stick, making the message undecipherable until it was read. Get the prize using a similar stick. Likewise, spies in ancient India are known to have used encrypted messages as early as the 2nd century BC.
Perhaps the most advanced cryptography in the ancient world on record was attributed to the Romans. A prominent example is the Roman cipher, known as the Caesar cipher, in which each letter in a message is replaced by a letter spaced from it in the Latin alphabet. By knowing this mechanism and the letter displacement distance, the receiver can successfully decode the message.
Development in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
During the Middle Ages, cryptography became increasingly important, but alternative ciphers, with the Caesar cipher as an example, remained the standard. Cryptanalysis, the science that studies methods for obtaining meaning from encrypted information, has begun to catch up with the still relatively primitive science of cryptography.
Al-Kindi, a prominent Arab mathematician, developed a technique known as frequency analysis around AD 800, which showed that substitution ciphers were easy to solve. For the first time, those working to decode encrypted messages had access to a systematic method of decryption. This pushes cryptography to go further to maintain its usefulness.
In 1465, Leone Alberti developed multi-ontology coding, which was considered a solution to Al-Kindi’s frequency analysis technique. In a multi-tongue cipher, a message is encrypted using two distinct alphabets. One is the alphabet used to write the original message, the other is a completely different alphabet through which the original message will be encrypted.
Combined with traditional substitution ciphers, multi-tongue cryptography enhances the security of encrypted information. Unless the reader knows the alphabet on which the original message is based, frequency analysis will not work.
New methods of encoding information were also developed during the Renaissance, including an early method of binary encoding invented by the famous scholar Sir Francis Bacon in 1623.
Advancements in recent centuries
The science of cryptography continued to thrive for centuries. A major breakthrough in cryptography was described, though probably never formulated, by Thomas Jefferson in the 1790s. His invention was known as the 36-letter cipher wheel. on the moving wheel is used to obtain complex coding results. The concept was so advanced that it served as the basis for American military cryptography until the end of World War II.
World War II also saw a great example of similar cryptography, known as the Enigma machine. Like the cipher wheel, this device, used by the Nazis, used spinning wheels to encode a message, making it virtually unreadable without another Enigma machine.
After all, early computer technology was used to help decipher the Enigma cipher. The successful decoding of the Enigma messages is still considered an important contribution to the Allied victory.
Cryptography in the Computer Age
With the rise of computers, cryptography has evolved a lot more than in the similar technological era. 128-bit mathematical encryption, much stronger than any ancient or medieval cipher, is now the standard for many sensor devices and computer systems.
Starting in 1990, a completely new form of encryption, known as quantum cryptography, has been developed by computer scientists in the hope of once again increasing the level of protection of cryptography. modernize.
Recently, cryptographic techniques have also been applied to cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies take advantage of several advanced cryptographic techniques, including hashing, public key cryptography, and digital signatures. These techniques are used mainly to ensure the security of data stored on blockchains and to validate transactions.
A special form of encryption, called Elliptic Curve-Based Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA), gives Bitcoin and other cryptosystems extra security and ensures that money can only be used by the rightful owner.
Cryptography has come a long way in the past 4000 years, and is not likely to stop anytime soon. As long as there is sensitive data that needs to be protected, cryptography will continue to evolve.
Although the coding systems used in cryptocurrency blockchains today are some of the most advanced forms of cryptography, they are also part of a long evolutionary chain in human history. .
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