Encryption Algorithms and Authentication algorithms have come a long way with the advent of time. Based on the fundamental concepts of symmetric key cryptography, asymmetric key cryptography and hashing, these algorithms have been seamlessly architected by men and women, who have earned the right to have their name published in every computer history book. From PGP to MD-4, this section gives you a glimpse into the underlying concepts of these algorithms which are born out of a mélange of mathematical concepts, computational technology and pure human intellect.
Computers 'talk' with each other in a very organized fashion, following a set of rules as to who gets to talk when and how. These set of rules – called protocols – establish, for example, the format in which a computer should initiate a connection with another computer, transfer data and terminate the connection, what happens when the connection is on the blink, etc. Cryptographic protocols are those which employ cryptographic algorithms to encrypt and decrypt data in order to secure the communication channel and prevent data 'eavesdropping'.
Given the ubiquity of the Internet today, the terms which get to be prefixed with an 'e' (encroached) are on the rise – e-mail, e-banking, e-commerce, e-business, e-marketing, e-governance, e-learning, e-zine (electronic magazine) to name a few. These e-services are not restricted by geographic location and time, thus providing users the ability to access them anywhere, anytime. This key feature has resulted in more people using the 'e-' version of their services. The critical requirement for all these services is secure communication, to transmit sensitive data like passwords and credit-card numbers. This secure communication is made possible using these cryptographic protocols. This section also covers some of the basic protocols.