Cryptology and Cipher Codes

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  • Topic: Cryptography, Cipher, Substitution cipher
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  • Published : March 2, 2013
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Brittany Lewis Cryptology and Cipher Codes Math Fair Report

In a world where identity theft is on the rise, hackers are hard at work trying to get people’s credit card numbers, and where companies are getting your information to sell you unwanted things, tight security has become a large factor of keeping the personal and confidential information of our society safe. Cryptology and Cipher codes are commonly used ways to keep confidential information protected by preventing people not in on the secret from understanding what is being transmitted. Cryptology is the science of secure communication which is also the encoding and decoding of data. Cipher codes are more complicated because it is a method used to transform a message into an obscure form. The use of these secured messages has been dated back to the first societies of the world where they were used for many of the same reasons they are today. The first use of written cryptology was believed to take place at about 1900 B.C when an Egyptian scribe first used a non-standard form of hieroglyphics in his writing. Then in 1500 B.C in Mesopotamia (common day Iraq), an enciphered message in cuneiform was used to conceal a formula to make glazes for pottery. In the years 500 through 600 B.C, Hebrew scribes used a reverse alphabet simple substitution cipher to write the book of Jeremiah which was known as ATBASH. The Greeks used a device called a scytale (rhymes with Italy) in 487 B.C which consisted of a strip of leather that was wrapped and then written on then used as a belt which the recipient would be wearing as well and that would decode the message. The famous Julius Caesar used cryptology to keep government communications private throughout 50 to 60 B.C. Even the first president of the United States George Washington used encoded messages to send to his fellow soldiers. Therefore, cryptology and cipher codes have played large roles in the confidentiality of societies in the past as they do in the present.

The subject of Cryptography is an important branch of Cryptology. Cryptography sternly focuses on translating a message into a cipher or code. A code is based on syllables, words, and phrases and a cipher is based on algorithms that transform plaintext to ciphertext. The way to encode a message in Cryptography is by taking ordinary information, which is called plaintext, and translating it into a very complex, unreadable message called ciphertext. To decode the message, the opposite is performed which means the ciphertext is translated back to readable plaintext. This may possibly seem easy however, creating and decoding codes can be close to impossible if there is no key. One-time pads act as a key because they are random lists of letters that are mixed with the plaintext or code books. Code books are lists of words or phrases and their replacement codes used to decipher a message. In a one-part code, the replacement codes are in the same alphabetic order so that the same list can be used for decoding. If a second list is needed to sort the codes alphabetically, then the scheme to encode the message is known as a two-part code. For a message to be received and then decoded by the intended readers, a book with all of the codes enlisted must be distributed to all of these readers. However, if the code book gets into the wrong hands, the code is no longer secure and a new code is required to be redistributed back to the readers. Two types of Ciphers are transportation ciphers and substitution ciphers. Transportation ciphers have to do with moving the letters of plaintext into new positions in the ciphertext based on the algorithm or procedure. The Caesar Square, rail-fence cipher, magic squares, knight’s tour, and text inversion are all examples of transportation ciphers. Substitution ciphers use mapping techniques to replace letters by other characters. Some substitution ciphers are the Caesar Shift, ATBASH, and keyword. The...
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