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An Introduction to Cryptography for Non-Cryptographers With Mathematical Background

# An Introduction to Cryptography for Non-Cryptographers With Mathematical Background

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A brief introduction to cryptography, covering different types of cryptosystems,
including block ciphers, stream ciphers, and public key cryptosystems. Encryption and decryption
operations are discussed for each cryptosystem. This is followed by a brief discussion of digital
signatures, hash algorithms, and mathematical background. Finally, there is a real-world
example of key generation, encryption, and decryption using the RSA algorithm.
A brief introduction to cryptography, covering different types of cryptosystems,
including block ciphers, stream ciphers, and public key cryptosystems. Encryption and decryption
operations are discussed for each cryptosystem. This is followed by a brief discussion of digital
signatures, hash algorithms, and mathematical background. Finally, there is a real-world
example of key generation, encryption, and decryption using the RSA algorithm.

Published by: djv on Dec 21, 2007

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11/30/2012

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Mar 30, 2007
An Introduction to Cryptography for Non-Cryptographers withMathematical Background
David J. Venable
E-Mail: davidjvenable@yahoo.com
Abstract:
A brief introduction to cryptography, covering different types of cryptosystems,including block ciphers, stream ciphers, and public key cryptosystems. Encryption and decryptionoperations are discussed for each cryptosystem. This is followed by a brief discussion of digitalsignatures, hash algorithms, and mathematical background. Finally, there is a real-worldexample of key generation, encryption, and decryption using the RSA algorithm.
Keywords:
Encryption, Decryption, Cryptographic Mathematics, RSA, Block Cipher, StreamCipher, Public Key Cryptosystem, Elliptic Curve, Quantum Cryptography, Key Exchange, DigitalSignatures, Cryptographic Hash Functions

Mar 30, 2007 1
Introduction
Cryptography has become an integral part of nearly everyone’s daily life. It is used to protect our financial information from thieves, to protect our personal information from marketing companies,and in some cases it’s even used to protect individuals’ freedoms from malicious governments.Cryptography is, indisputably, one of the most important fields within the security profession.Unfortunately, it also seems to be the least understood.So how can it be that such an important technology receives such little attention in books andclasses alike? The answer is simple, there seems to be an intimidation factor within cryptographythat is not present in any other field within the security professional’s purview: mathematics—andnot the sort of mathematics with which most people are comfortable. Cryptography comes withphrases that can sound down-right frightening. Words like “finite fields,” “Euler’s totient function,”and “modulus.” Fortunately, these phrases describe concepts that most people have masteredby the end of elementary school.This article will touch on the building blocks of cryptography including the different types of cryptosystems, their various uses, and some of the underlying mathematics involved, and willculminate in an example usage of the RSA algorithm.
Different Types of Cryptosystems
Stream Ciphers
Stream ciphers are usually the combination of pseudo-random key information with plaintext for encryption, or ciphertext for decryption one bit at a time. This is usually done using the XORoperation. Because stream ciphers are typically much faster than other types of ciphers, they areused when encrypting phone calls or network traffic. Stream ciphers are symmetric keyalgorithms, meaning that the encryption key and decryption key are the same. Common streamciphers include RC4 and A5/1. See Illustration 1.
Illustration 1: Stream Cipher

Mar 30, 2007 2
Block Ciphers
Block ciphers typically take a block of input, perform an operation (encryption or decryption) andoutput a same-sized block. For example, when encrypting, a block cipher will read a block of plaintext, operate on it using the key, and output a block of ciphertext. When decrypting, it readsa block of ciphertext, operates on it using the key, and outputs a block of plaintext.Additionally, block ciphers may be run in a variety of modes which affect the operations. Someblock ciphers may even be used as stream ciphers, however they are typically slower than actualstream ciphers. Common block ciphers include AES, DES, and IDEA.
Public Key Cryptography
Public key cryptosystems are unique, in that they use different keys for encryption anddecryption. This is based on a relationship between three numbers: the encryption key, thedecryption key, and the modulus. Encryption operates on plaintext using the encryption key andthe modulus to produce ciphertext. Decryption operates on ciphertext using the decryption keyand the modulus to produce plaintext. One’s public (encryption) key may be widely distributedwithout fear of compromising messages encrypted with it. As long as the private (decryption) keyis kept secret, the communications are secure.Asymmetric cryptography solves several problems inherent in symmetric cryptography, such askey exchange over insecure channels, authentication, and non-repudiation using digitalsignatures.Public key encryption is slow. For this reason, most implementations of asymmetric encryptionuse the technology to encrypt a randomly generated session key that is then used to encrypt anddecrypt the plain text with either a block or stream cipher. Common public key cryptosystemsinclude RSA, Diffie-Hellman, and ElGamal.
Illustration 2: Block Cipher

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