cryptographyIf you have ever considered pursuing a career within the field of information security, you might wonder what is cryptography. By reading the information listed below, you can obtain an answer to this question and several others that pertain to the field of information security.

Cryptography: A Brief Overview

Although broadly defined, cryptography is basically the science of information security. The word cryptography comes from the Greek word kryptos, which means hidden. Cryptography is most closely related to similar disciplines such as cryptanalysis and cryptology. The field includes techniques such as merging words and images, microdots, and a plethora of other strategies that are used to hide information in transit or storage. As a result of our contemporary computer-centered world, cryptography is now most frequently associated with the scrambling of plaintext. Plaintext is ordinary text, which is occasionally called cleartext. Plaintext is scrambled into ciphertext through a process referred to as encryption. Then, it is scrambled back into its original form, which is a process called decryption. Individuals who work within the field of cryptography are called cryptographers.

The Purpose of Cryptography

In her article “What is cryptography?” for technology website TechTarget, writer Margaret Rouse points out that modern cryptography seeks to accomplish four objectives:

1. Confidentiality

This process involves ensuring that important data cannot be understood by individuals or groups for whom it was not intended.

2. Integrity

Integrity refers to the process which ensures that data can’t be changed in transit or storage between the sender and the receiver without the change being discovered.

3. Non-repudiation

Non-repudiation refers to the fact that the sender of data cannot deny that she or he created or transmitted the data after doing so.

4. Authentication

Authentication refers to the fact that the receiver and sender are able to confirm one another’s identity as well as the destination and origin of the data.

Any protocol or procedure that conforms to one or all of the criteria listed above are referred to as cryptosystems. Oftentimes, cryptosystems are thought of in terms of computer programs and mathematical procedures. However, they can also reference the regulation of human behavior. Some examples would include logging off an unused system, selecting passwords that would be difficult to guest, or refraining from discussing sensitive procedures with individuals who should not have access to the information.

Related Resource: Information Security Analysts

Cryptography In The Modern World

In this contemporary era, cryptography has become a battleground for the world’s best computer scientists and mathematicians. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that the ability to transfer and store sensitive data has become an important factor in the worlds of business and war. Additionally, many government institutions do not want certain groups and individuals within and outside of their countries to gain access to sensitive information that could potentially threaten national interest, and this will has led to the imposing of restrictions on cryptography such as limitations on the export and usage of software.


As made plain by the information listed above, cryptography is an important field in our contemporary world. Now that you have an answer to the question, what is cryptography?, you can determine if it is a career field you should pursue or simply learn more about to protect your information.