Operating Systems/Programming

Early Versions of Cryptography



One of the earliest versions of cryptography was found in the Egyptian town, Menet Khufu. On the tomb of Khnumhotep II, hieroglyphics were inscribed with strange symbols to help deter people from understanding what was written; this is called a substitution cipher. In Greece, the Spartans developed the Scytale, which was a device used to send and receive secret messages; this was a cylinder bound in a narrow piece of parchment. Without the proper cylinder, the message would not be able to be read. This is called a transposition cipher. Julias Caesar also used cryptography in the military by substituting letters for different letters.
In the 1400’s, Leon Battista Alberti invented a cipher disk. This was a mechanical sliding disk that enabled multiple methods of substitution. This is a great example of a polyalphabetic cipher. Later in the 1500’s, Blaise De Vigenere created another cipher, the Vigenere Cipher. It worked much like Caesar’s cipher, however, changed the key through the process by using a grid of letters. This cipher was named the Vigenere Square/Table. Finally, in the 1700’s, Thomas Jefferson came up with his cipher system which was similar to the Vigenere Cipher, however, more secure. Using 26 wheels with randomly scattered letters on it, he created a method of using an encryption algorithm to encode messages.
. These forms of early encryption/encoding were effective, however, could be easily replicated and decoded if their method of encryption/encoding was discovered. Through the future years, encoding/decoding has grown significantly more advanced and harder to crack, which is very necessary for today’s high level of technology and amount of sensitive data.
McDonald, Nicholas G. (n.d.) Past, Present, and Future Methods of Cryptography and Data Encryption. Retrieved from http://eng.utah.edu/~nmcdonal/Tutorials/EncryptionResearchReview.pdf.

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