(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 7, October 2010
Cryptography is the art and science of hiding secretdocuments . Security is very important in applications likemultimedia conferencing system. To provide a securemultimedia conferencing system, cryptography is used toaddress data confidentiality, and authentication . Moderncryptographic techniques address the security objectives of multimedia conferencing systems. In general, there are twomain categories of cryptography; symmetric and asymmetrickey cryptography , .A brief overview of each category will be provided in thisSection. In addition, symmetric and asymmetric cryptographywill be compared briefly to realize the advantages anddisadvantages of each one.
Symmetric Key Cryptography
Symmetric key cryptography is one of the main categoriesof cryptography. In symmetric key cryptography, to provide a
secure communication a shared secret, called “Secret Key”,
must be established between sender and recipient. The samekey is used for both encryption and decryption. Thus, such a
cryptosystem is called “Symmetric” . This type of
cryptography can only provide data confidentiality, and cannotaddress the other objectives of security , .Moreover, symmetric key cryptography cannot handlecommunications in large n-node networks. To provide aconfidential communication in a large network of
nodes,each node needs
shared secrets. Hence,
sharedsecrets need to be established that is highly impractical andinconvenient for a large value of
. All classicalcryptosystems that were developed before 1970s and also mostmodern cryptosystems are symmetric . DES (DataEncryption Standard) , 3DES (Triple Data EncryptionStandard) , AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) ,IDEA , RC5 , Blowfish , and SEAL  are someof the popular examples of modern symmetric keycryptosystems.Amongst all symmetric encryption schemes, Blowfish is known as the fastest symmetric encryption scheme which iscompact and suitable for large blocks of data, and thereforesuitable for video data encryption . Thus, Blowfish ischosen as the best example of symmetric scheme for videoencryption in this research.
Asymmetric Key Cryptography
Asymmetric or public key cryptography is the othercategory of cryptography. Despite symmetric keycryptography, public key cryptosystems use a pair of keysinstead of a single key for encryption and decryption. One of
the keys, called “Public Key”, is publicly known and is
uted to all users, whereas the “Private Key” must be
kept secret by the owner. Data encrypted with a specific publickey, can only be decrypted using the corresponding privatekey, and vice versa. Since different keys are used forencryption and decryption, the cryptosystem is called
Modern public key cryptosystems rely on somecomputationally intractable problems, and the security of public key cryptosystems depends on the difficulty of the hardproblem on which they rely. Hence, public key algorithmsoperate on sufficiently large numbers to make thecryptanalysis practically infeasible, and thus make the systemsecure , . However, due to smart modern cryptanalysisand modern high speed processing power, the key size of public key cryptosystems grew very large . Using largekeys is one of the disadvantages of public key cryptographydue to the large memory capacity and large computationalpower required for key processing.There are several standard public key algorithms such asRSA , El-Gamal  and Elliptic Curve Cryptography(ECC) . However, ECC  is a recent public keycryptography which is more efficient and faster than the otherasymmetric cryptosystems. Unlike previous cryptographysolutions, ECC is based on geometric instead of numbertheory . In fact, the security strength of the ECC relies onthe Elliptic Curve Discrete Logarithm Problem (ECDLP)applied to a specific point on an elliptic curve , . InECC, the private key is a random number, whereas the publickey is a point on the elliptic curve which is obtained bymultiplying the private key with the generator point
on thecurve . Hence, computing public key from private key isrelatively easy, whereas obtaining private key from public keyis computationally infeasible .This is considered as ECDLPthat is much more complex than the DLP, and it is believed tobe harder than integer factorization problem . Hence, ECCis one of the strongest public key cryptographic systemsknown today.In addition, ECC uses smaller keys than the other publickey cryptosystems, and requires less computation to provide ahigh level of security. In other words, efficiency is the mostimportant advantage of the ECC since it offers the highestcryptographic strength per bit , . This a great advantagein many applications, especially in cases that thecomputational power, bandwidth, storage and efficiency arecritical factors , . Thus, ECC has been chosen as thebest asymmetric encryption in this research.
Symmetric Versus Asymmetric Key Cryptography
Despite the Public key cryptography that can only providedata confidentiality, asymmetric key cryptography addressesboth data confidentiality and authentication. Public keycryptography solves the problem of confidentialcommunication in large n-node networks, since there is noneed to establish a shared secret between communicatingparties. Moreover, there are protocols that combine public keycryptography, public key certificates and secure hash functionsto enable authentication .However, public key cryptosystems are significantlyslower than symmetric cryptosystems. Moreover, public keycryptography is more expensive since it requires large memorycapacity and large computational power. For instance, a
key used with DES provides approximately the same levelof security as the
key used with RSA . A brief comparison of symmetric and asymmetric key cryptography issummarized in Table I.