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Chapter: Computer Networks - Application Layer

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Symmetric Key Cryptography

Symmetric-key cryptography started thousands of years ago when people needed to exchange secrets (for example, in a war). We still mainly use symmetric-key cryptography in our network security.

Symmetric-Key Cryptography

 

Symmetric-key cryptography started thousands of years ago when people needed to exchange secrets (for example, in a war). We still mainly use symmetric-key cryptography in our network security.

 

Traditional Ciphers

 

The traditional ciphers are character-oriented. Although these are now obsolete, the goal is to show how modern ciphers evolved from them. We can divide traditional symmetric-key ciphers into two broad categories: substitution ciphers and transposition ciphers


Substitution Cipher

A substitution cipher substitutes one symbol with another. If the symbols in theplaintext are alphabetic characters, we replace one character with another. For example, we can replace character A with D, and character T with Z. If the symbols are digits (0 to 9), we can replace 3 with 7, and 2 with 6. Substitution ciphers can be categorized as either monoalphabetic or polyalphabetic ciphers. A substitution cipher replaces one symbol with another.

 

In a monoalphabetic cipher, a character (or a symbol) in the plaintext is alwayschanged to the same character (or symbol) in the ciphertext regardless of its position in the text. For example, if the algorithm says that character A in the plaintext is changed to character D, every character A is changed to character D.

In a polyalphabetic cipher, each occurrence of a character can have a differentsubstitute. The relationship between characters in the plaintext to a character in the ciphertext is a one-to-many relationship. For example, character A could be changed to D in the beginning of the text, but it could be changed to N at the middle.

 

Transposition Ciphers

 

In a transposition cipher, there is no substitution of characters; instead, their locations change. A character in the first position of the plaintext may appear in the tenth position of the ciphertext. A character in the eighth position may appear in the first position. In other words, a transposition cipher reorders the symbols in a block of symbols. A transposition cipher reorders (permutes) symbols in a block of symbols.


 

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