Cryptography is the science of encoding and decoding secret messages. It forms the basis of internet protocols and security. As this field has developed it has led to a broad range of terminology developing but these terms can be baffling. This short guide will explain some of the most common terms that are almost unavoidable on a daily basis.
Asymmetric Encryption – Is a form of encryption where the keys come in pairs. What one key will encrypt the other will decrypt. The keys can sometimes be interchangeable.
Certificate – A digitally signed statement that vouches for the identity and public key of an entity. These can be self-signed or issued by a certification authority.
Certificate Pinning – This ignores the signature hierarchy and says only this certificate or certificates signed by this certificate can be trusted.
Cipher Text – The text left after a message has been encrypted.
Cryptographic Keys – A string of bits is used by a cryptographic algorithm to transform plain text into cipher text or vice versa. This key remains private ensuring secure communications.
Hashing – This is the transformation of a string of characters into a usually shorter fixed-length value or key that represents the original string. Hashing is used to index and retrieve items in a database because it is quicker to find shorter hashed keys. It is for this reason that it is used in encryption algorithms.
Key Escrow – A third party holds a copy of the secret key needed to decrypt something. This is good for business encryption because it means no employee can hold the company ransom.
Multiple Encryption – The practice of encrypting data with more than one cryptographic algorithm.
Network Time Protocol – A protocol used to synchronise clocks of hosts and routers in the internet.
Online Certificate Status Protocol – This protocol is used for querying revocation information related to a given certificate or certificate authority.
PGP– Pretty Good Privacy is software developed by Phil Zimmerman which includes public key cryptography, key format and symmetric encryption.
Protocol – A method of performing a single task or a defined communication procedure between multiple entities.
Symmetric Encryption – Only using a single key for encryption makes this the oldest and most well-known technique. A key can be a number, a word or a string of letters, that will be applied to change the messages content.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – A protocol which establishes a secure persistent connection to another host over a specific port.
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