View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. What Is
June 8, 2016updated 22 Sep 2016 12:12pm

What is cryptography?

How cryptography differs from other terms such as cryptology and encryption.

By Alexander Sword

Cryptography means the science of writing or solving codes.

The concept has taken on new value in the digital age, in which cryptographers use the techniques to secure computer systems and digital communications.

This includes both stored data and data travelling across communication channels.

As well as obscuring the content of messages from unintended audiences, cryptography aims to ensure that the information is not altered and that the identities of both parties can be confirmed to the other.

Since no communication channel is perfect, using cryptographic techniques can be necessary to protect information from adversaries.

While it is a key part of advanced cyber security practices, cryptography is used regularly in day-to-day life, such as when paying with credit cards.

Though the terms are related, cryptography differs from encryption. Cryptography more refers to the science of secret codes whereas encryption is an actual cryptographic process. Encryption essentially means scrambling data using an algorithm so that only somebody with a secret key can access it.

Content from our partners
GenAI cybersecurity: "A super-human analyst, with a brain the size of a planet."
Cloud, AI, and cyber security – highlights from DTX Manchester
Infosecurity Europe 2024: Rethink the power of infosecurity

d e

It also differs from cryptology, which refers specifically to the study of codes.

The world is derived from Greek words meaning ‘secret’ and ‘writing.

WhatsApp, the popular chat app, has introduced end-to-end encryption for the messages of all of its users.

Cryptography is not a new concept in the computer age, however. For example, Julius Caesar gave his name to one of the earliest known ciphers, the Caesar cipher. This shifts every letter in the alphabet a certain number of places in the alphabet. For example, B stands in for A, C stands in for B, etcetera.

Cryptography is often a core module in cyber security courses. It requires a knowledge of programming as well as some understanding of probability and theory of computation and algorithm analysis.

Key topics include encryption, pseudo-random generation, digital signatures, two-party protocols and zero-knowledge.


Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.