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History of Cryptography and Its Modern Applications

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Written by
Dr. Simon Robbins
  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 810 words
  • Icon Clock 4 min read
English (United States)
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Cryptography is a major emerging trend in technology in the modern world. Moreover, cryptography has enhanced communication between two parties by ensuring secure encryption and decryption of information. From the first mentions in history, cryptography has evolved from the data encryption standard (DES) to the advanced encryption standard (AES), resulting in secure online transactions today.

Definition and Early Forms

Cryptography is a technique used for protecting data and communications by encrypting the information using codes so that only the intended audience can decipher and process them. For example, the history of cryptography dates back to ancient Egypt during 1900 B.C. when hieroglyphics were used to communicate secret information (Naser 2021, p. 11). In this regard, hieroglyphs were a secret form of communication used by Egyptians to communicate with each other. These secret texts were only understood by the pharaoh’s scribes, who used them to communicate. In turn, Greeks and Romans used other forms of cryptography, such as “Scytale” and ceaser shift cipher, respectively (Naser 2021, p. 12). These cryptography forms used wound tape, sticks, and shifting the position of alphabets to hide the meanings from others. Today, cryptography protects the data and makes it understandable to a specific audience.

History of Cryptography and Its Modern Applications


DES is a cryptographic method designed by scientists of the International Business Machines (IBM) corporation as a modification to a cipher known as Lucifer. DES was mainly developed to secure the delivery of data that was in the form of text in 1971 (Ratnadewi et al. 2018, p. 2). As such, DES is useful among the army and the United States (US) government in keeping data safe from theft. However, AES is a faster and stronger algorithm than DES since it consists of a similar decryption and encryption key of 56 bits (Kumar, Ramkumar & Kaur 2020, p. 183). As a result, DES has been replaced with AES, which the US government now uses to safeguard classified information. Hence, DES and AES are the two major encryption techniques used in cryptography, with AES still in use due to the increased bit-key length.

Modern Applications

Cryptography has numerous modern applications, including symmetric encryption and the development of cryptocurrencies. For instance, cryptography allows users to use symmetric encryption to protect file content using a secret key (Li & Wang 2022, p. 347). The protected files can be accessed using an encryption key that can be entered by the user or keyed in from the hardware token. Moreover, cryptography helps to secure cryptocurrency transactions by ensuring safe decryption and encryption of bitcoin exchanges (Li & Wang 2022, p. 348). In this case, cryptography creates a safe environment for conducting bitcoin online transactions. Therefore, cryptography aids in the safety of files and disks via encryption, including securing online cryptocurrency transactions involving bitcoins.

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Cryptography is a technique that has existed since ancient Egypt. Cryptography has evolved from the past times, leading to the introduction of DES, while, later, AES replaced it due to higher bit key capacity. Moreover, cryptocurrency has resulted in secure transactions of bitcoins. As a result, cryptography is a useful tool in modern society and makes full disk encryption and file protection possible in several applications.

Reference List

Kumar, K, Ramkumar, KR & Kaur, A 2020. ‘A design implementation and comparative analysis of advanced encryption standard (AES) algorithm on FPGA’, in 2020 8th International Conference on Reliability, Infocom Technologies and Optimization (Trends and Future Directions) (ICRITO), pp. 182-185, viewed 4 July 2023, DOI: 10.1109/icrito48877.2020.9198033.

Li, H & Wang, Y 2022. ‘The history of cryptography and its applications’, International Journal of Social Science and Education Research, 5, no. 3, pp. 343-349, viewed 4 July 2023, DOI: 10.6918/IJOSSER.202203_5(3).0056.

Naser, SM 2021. ‘Cryptography: From ancient history to now, its applications and a new complete numerical model’, International Journal of Mathematics and Statistics Studies, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 11-30, viewed 4 July 2023, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.13438.51524.

Ratnadewi, RPA, Hutama, Y, Ahmar, AS & Setiawan MI 2018. ‘Implementation cryptography data encryption standard (DES) and triple data encryption standard (3DES) method in communication system based near field communication (NFC)’, Journal of Physics: Conference Series, no. 954, pp. 1–9, viewed 4 July 2023, DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/954/1/012009.

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