Encryption is a mechanism for hiding information by turning readable text into a stream of gibberish in such a way that someone with the proper key can make it readable again.

Introduction: Why is this Important?

Encryption used to be considered a very esoteric subject. It seemed to have no important practical applications outside of the goverment/military world, and was considered a harmless mathematical diversion if anyone else should pursue it. The age of computers has changed that. In a world where everything we do is recorded on computers, and all computers are linked to the Internet (and thus to each other) we find that encryption is of vital importance in many areas: At the same time, law enforment authorities worry that if everybody routinely keeps their personal records encrypted, evidence seized under a search warrant will be unusable. For this reason, they have tried to limit the ability of the general public to use strong (unbreakable) encryption. The laws of the United States of America treats encryption software as military ammunition and allows it to be exported only with case-by-case permission from the government. (Of course, this is futile, since free encryption software is readily available over the Internet from software repositories in Finland and Australia.)

History of Encryption

Overview of Encryption

Using Encryption for Security

The main reason that encryption has become big business, is that it can be used to verify business transactions. Public Key encryption programs can be used to create digital signatures that guarantee that a message was sent by a person holding a unique code key.

This article by Andrew Fernandes is a pretty good explanation.

Governments are Spying on Us

It is fairly well known in the industry that a consortium of intelligence agencies led by the US NSA and CIA are provided access to most or all transatlantic communication circuits, and that they routinely monitor a large part of the traffic. The following links point to articles about these matters:

More Books

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