The word “cryptography” is derived from the Greek kryptos, meaning hidden.
The prefix “crypt-” means “hidden” or “vault,” and the suffix “-graphy” stands for “writing.”
The origin of cryptography is usually dated from about 2000 B.C., with the Egyptian practice of hieroglyphics. These consisted of complex pictograms, the full meaning of which was only known to an elite few.
The first known use of a modern cipher was by Julius Caesar (100 B.C. to 44 B.C.), who did not trust his messengers when communicating with his governors and officers. For this reason, he created a system in which each character in his messages was replaced by a character three positions ahead of it in the Roman alphabet.
In recent times, cryptography has turned into a battleground of some of the world’s best mathematicians and computer scientists. The ability to securely store and [transfer sensitive informationhas proved a critical factor in success in war and business.
Because governments do not want certain entities in and out of their countries to have access to ways to receive and send hidden information that may be a threat to national interests, cryptography has been subject to various restrictions in many countries, ranging from limitations of the usage and export of software to the public dissemination of mathematical concepts that could be used to develop cryptosystems.
However, the internet has allowed the spread of powerful programs and, more importantly, the underlying techniques of cryptography, so that today many of the most advanced cryptosystems and ideas are now in the public domain.
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