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Word Count: 3,132
Cryptography is the science of encoding a message into a form that is unreadable and making sure only the proper people are capable of decoding the message back into its original form This is usually done by using an encryption algorithm and a decryption algorithm these two are often the same and very often a secret key Some of the early cryptographic systems did not use a key but instead kept the algorithm itself secret The message sender uses the encryption algorithm and the key to encode the message and then sends it to the receiver The receiver then uses the decryption algorithm and the key to turn back the encrypted message into its original form and read it If the message is intercepted on the way by a third party they will only have unreadable data and will have gained nothing unless they can figure out the decryption algorithm and obtain the key This is why the key is never to be sent with the message and has to be kept secret at all cost If the key is compromised the sender and the encrypted data is no longer safe The sender and the receiver then usually agree on a new key to prevent any further damage In ancient Greece around 550 Bc messages were sent encoded to generals and could only be decoded using special staff keys The key actually consisted of a physical object which was applied on the message to get the decrypted version of it In 50 Bc one of the most simple cryptographic algorithms ever used was the one called the Caesar cipher that was used by Julius Caesar to send messages to his generals It consisted simply of switching each letter with the letter that was 3 letters further down the alphabet For example Stephen would become Vwhskhq To decrypt the message the receivers would simply subtract 3 letters from each letter
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