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Cryptography signifies that which is concealed or hidden. It is writing or a description in a brief manner that secretly conveys a particular intelligence or words that we may wish to communicate. Cryptography may be used as a form of clandestine communication. The art of cryptography is a legitimate form of communication that is acknowledged in the world.
This is because there can be some times of danger and stress between individuals or nations that will make the use of cryptography inevitable especially when there is need to carry out a successful operation, by ensuring that the enemy does not get to understand the deliberations or communications between various agents of government (Ashchenko, 2002).
Cryptography is the study of mathematical techniques for different dimensions of security. The other words that are closely related to cryptography are cryptanalysis and cryptology. Cryptanalysis is the science that is applied in defeating the mathematical techniques while cryptology is the study of both cryptography and cryptanalysis. The terminologies that are applied in cryptography include:
Encryption: this is the action of concealing or disguising a message with an intention of hiding the information content. This may be achieved through encoding or enciphering.
Protocol: this is an algorithm which can be defined by series of steps and can specify the series to various parties.
Plain text: this is the message that can be transited or that can be stored whether encoded or decoded.
Cipher: this is a map from a space of plain text to a space of cipher text
Encode: to convert a message into a representation in a particular standard alphabet
Decode: to covert the coded message back into its original alphabet.
Keeping Information Private
Secrecy of communication can take many forms just in the same way that the perception regarding the movement the eye can be interpreted to give different meanings.
The key features of information that can enhance the security of information are confidentiality, privacy, integrity of data, authentication and non repudiation. Security of message is always addressed by cryptographic standard methods. Any information that is stored on a data base can easily be accessed and shared by the intruders (Privacy and Human Rights, 2003).
Privacy of information is an inherent culture of every individual. The emergence of computer technology and especially communication transmitted through computer networks have raised a lot of ethical concerns regarding privacy due to the volume of information that passes through a computer in one day. Computer privacy raises several ethical and moral dilemmas.
There are several technologies that have been developed to enhance privacy during communication. These technologies include cryptography, authentication and digital signatures.
Cryptography, for example, is a technology that can utilize several firms of algorithms and protocols in computer networks. Computers have raised few and new privacy problems mainly resulting from communication and storage of information (Diane, 1997).
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The technologies that enhance privacy have raised several concerns among governments and other authorities due to the difficulty of the interception of the encrypted communication that is transmitted through computer networks.
The main ethical issue is the dilemma between the privacy of a group and individuals and their safety and security, for example, on what side the government would want to maintain the privacy of its citizens but at the same time it would wish to have knowledge of the information that is transmitted for security purposes.
There are therefore several devices and techniques that have been developed to enhance interception (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, 2009).
At this age of computer, private or personal information which has been transmitted through the computer can be stored through a data base, this database can be searched and accessed by any person and it can be used for purposes of advertisement without the knowledge of the communicating parties.
Consequently, privacy is not perceived in similar manner and it is not viewed in the same dimension, various countries and several individual have different perceptions of what privacy is (Diffie & Landau, 1998).
Computer Systems and Networks Threats
The advent of computer has raised several privacy issues and users are worried that they might risk loosing their information to authorities or companies who may utilize it for commercial purpose. Privacy is defined as the right of an individual or a group of people not to expose information touching on their personal issues; it may as well be understood as the right to maintain personal information from being misused.
Privacy on computer networks are vulnerable to access and manipulation by unauthorized intruders who have no right to such information. Since time immemorial, communication between people has been left exposed to both gossip and government (Banisar, 1995).
The interception of both telephone and telegraph conversations is a normal occurrence. The development of computer network has enhanced the degree of communication leading to an increase in the volume of data sent through telecommunication and network systems.
The wireless computer networks have enhanced eavesdropping of conversations. The threats emanating from computer networks have never been solved (Pipkin, 1998). Among the threats that have been enabled by the computer network include the following:
Criminal Actions: information technology has expanded freedom of expression and the open architecture of the internet has exposed the society to threats of criminal communication. These criminal acts should be protected under free speech. There are several criminal acts that are executed through the computer which is connected to a particular network.
These criminal actions include software piracy, computer sabotage and the electronic break-ins. The criminal actions of software nature can be executed when proprietary software, monies and music gets copied and distributed in networks without permission.
Other categories of crimes of the software nature are viruses, worms and Trojan horses; they have the ability of infecting computers with malicious pieces of code. Computer break-ins are actualized by hackers who at many occasions have the power to break into forbidden system without the permission of the owner.
Computer trespass can also be a form of criminal activity of technological nature. Trespass fall in the category of spam (Horniak, 2004).
Cryptography and Protection of Privacy and Public Safety
The protection of individual rights is the main aim of cryptography. It facilitates the safe custody of private information from thieves and intruders. This enhances security and privacy of individual information. The private use of cryptography may at times lead to privacy problems, several countries have expressed reservations that encrypted information can be intercepted by enemies.
Consequently, the problem from the use of cryptography is that any communication that is passed by use of computer networks is that it is hard to wiretap such as telephone communication.
This has led to the regulations of all the encrypted keys whether public or private by the use of the Clipper Chip which enhances wiretapping of communications. Other wiretapping devices used are the carnivore and echelon (Encyclopedia of Business, 2011).
Policies in the use of Cryptography
The significance of information and communication technology is gaining prominence and popularity in the society and the global world economy. This is necessitated by the intensification and the increase in the value and the quantity of data that is transacted and transmitted.
These communication systems and the networks are growing increasingly vulnerable to various threats like unauthorized access, misappropriation, alteration and destruction (Electronic Privacy Information Center, 2009). The increased proliferation of computers has enhanced the computing power growth of networks, convergence of information and communication technology and decentralization.
Cryptography is considered as a best component of securing information and communication systems, hence there are varieties of technologies that have been developed to incorporate cryptographic techniques to provide security. Cryptography is an important tool and an effective measure of ensuring that data transmitted is confidential and of integrity but the increased and widespread use of cryptography raises several issues.
Every government has the responsibility to protect the privacy and rights of its citizens among other inherent rights (Furnell, Lambrinoudakis & Pernul, 2011).
Cryptography was commonly used exclusively by government unlike in the modern times when it is accessible and available to every individual willing to have. It has been used to encode information so as to conceal secret messages from being accessed by unauthorized parties. This is particularly in the case of military and national security uses.
Cryptography utilizes algorithm in order to transform data so as to render it unintelligible to all those parties who do not have the knowledge or copy of secret information which is often referred as cryptographic key which is necessary for the decryption of the data.
The use of cryptography has been enhanced by the increased circulation of power caused by development of digital computing which has made it possible to utilize complex mathematical algorithms for the encryption of data.
The advancement of information and communication technology has facilitated vast and bulk transmission of information which can be copied faster and stored very quickly.
This has prompted the need for protection of privacy and the maintaining of data confidentiality of both private and public records and even commercial data. Cryptography is critical and an effective tool to address such technological problems in a networked environment since it can be used to conceal and protect classified information and data. The policies that can be taken into consideration regarding cryptography are:
User Trust: individuals, authorities, enterprises and governments are all affected by electronic information and communication systems yet they all have increased dependence on uninterrupted proper functioning. These users need to be assured that the communication systems can be made reliable and secure especially in this era of electronic commerce and electronic funds transfer.
Lack of confidence in these systems can hinder the development and the use of information and communication technologies. With the advent of credit card, failure to have a secure security and communication system may easily result losing if huge amounts of cash.
The users of this system require to be trustworthy and to have a strong sense of confidence in the existing information and communication technology (Golic, 1995).
User Choice: solutions to protecting any threat to information and communication technology can take different forms and the choice of cryptographic methods is wise since it is available to meet all the wide varieties of the user requirements and data security which may comprise hardware and software which show the potential to integrate all the products that can provide some strength and complexity based on the type of algorithm and the product.
Market Driven Development: the private sector is an indispensable partner in the creation of information infrastructure and they are the ones who are responsible for its creation and construction hence they have the duty to develop the products and to determine the standards based on the needs of the market.
There are however some cases where the government may influence the product development by expressing their specifications for particular product but care is always observed as to hinder government from driving the markets towards their favored directions.
Standardization: this is an important ingredient in security mechanism. Cryptographic methods together with information infrastructure develop quickly due to market dominance. There is always need for the government and the infrastructure industry to work together by providing the necessary architecture and the information’s standards in order to enhance the production of quality information and communication system.
Protection of Privacy: privacy is a fundamental right and the confidentiality of information is an inherent value in any democratic society. The right to privacy has been placed at a greater risk due to the advancement of communication and information technology infrastructure. Cryptography forms a basis of a new dawn in privacy enhancement techniques.
Use of an effective cryptography in any networked environment can aid in protecting privacy of personal information. Failure to make use of cryptography in an environment where data is not secure may jeopardize some interests like national security and the safety of the public. Cryptography maintains the integrity of data especially in electronic transactions where lack of privacy may have some implications (Garay, 2010).
Lawful Access: a controversial policy regarding cryptography is the conflict between confidentiality and public safety. Whereas cryptography is necessary in the protection of privacy there may be a need to consider circumstance for lawful access to information by the public. There should be rules guiding the interception and access of information by the government (Department of Justice, 2000).
Computer has made communication flow to be very efficient. A lot of information is transferred from one place to another. Some of the information transferred might be quite sensitive as it might be touching on personal details of significant people in the society. Information transferred over computers through the internet ought to be protected against unauthorized intervention.
At this age of computer literacy, the art of computer hacking has been perfected and information transferred from one place to another is prone to be interfered with. Hacking is a great threat to securities of nations as terrorists can access vital information about a country’s national security system and use to plan launch attacks.
Hacking also poses a great danger of exposing personal information and business secrets to unknown parties who may use information to their own advantage but at the expense of the owners of the information. Encryption provides a solution to the hacking threat. The security of any information transferred is boosted by encrypting the information.
By encrypting information it becomes hard to access such information. However, it has been noted that encryption may pose another challenge to the government as it will very hard to detect information flow which may targeted at compromising the security of a country. For this reason, encryption is always controlled and the government can always intercept any information for the sake of a nation’s security.
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