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Cryptography: The Key to Digital Security, How It Works, and Why It Matters

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A nuts-and-bolts explanation of cryptography from a leading expert in information security. Despite its reputation as a language only of spies and hackers, cryptography plays a critical role in our everyday lives. Though often invisible, it underpins the security of our mobile phone calls, credit card payments, web searches, internet messaging, and cryptocurrencies—in short A nuts-and-bolts explanation of cryptography from a leading expert in information security. Despite its reputation as a language only of spies and hackers, cryptography plays a critical role in our everyday lives. Though often invisible, it underpins the security of our mobile phone calls, credit card payments, web searches, internet messaging, and cryptocurrencies—in short, everything we do online. Increasingly, it also runs in the background of our smart refrigerators, thermostats, electronic car keys, and even the cars themselves. As our daily devices get smarter, cyberspace—home to all the networks that connect them—grows. Broadly defined as a set of tools for establishing security in this expanding cyberspace, cryptography enables us to protect and share our information. Understanding the basics of cryptography is the key to recognizing the significance of the security technologies we encounter every day, which will then help us respond to them. What are the implications of connecting to an unprotected Wi-Fi network? Is it really so important to have different passwords for different accounts? Is it safe to submit sensitive personal information to a given app, or to convert money to bitcoin? In clear, concise writing, information security expert Keith Martin answers all these questions and more, revealing the many crucial ways we all depend on cryptographic technology. He demystifies its controversial applications and the nuances behind alarming headlines about data breaches at banks, credit bureaus, and online retailers. We learn, for example, how cryptography can hamper criminal investigations and obstruct national security efforts, and how increasingly frequent ransomware attacks put personal information at risk. Yet we also learn why responding to these threats by restricting the use of cryptography can itself be problematic. Essential reading for anyone with a password, Cryptography offers a profound perspective on personal security, online and off.


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A nuts-and-bolts explanation of cryptography from a leading expert in information security. Despite its reputation as a language only of spies and hackers, cryptography plays a critical role in our everyday lives. Though often invisible, it underpins the security of our mobile phone calls, credit card payments, web searches, internet messaging, and cryptocurrencies—in short A nuts-and-bolts explanation of cryptography from a leading expert in information security. Despite its reputation as a language only of spies and hackers, cryptography plays a critical role in our everyday lives. Though often invisible, it underpins the security of our mobile phone calls, credit card payments, web searches, internet messaging, and cryptocurrencies—in short, everything we do online. Increasingly, it also runs in the background of our smart refrigerators, thermostats, electronic car keys, and even the cars themselves. As our daily devices get smarter, cyberspace—home to all the networks that connect them—grows. Broadly defined as a set of tools for establishing security in this expanding cyberspace, cryptography enables us to protect and share our information. Understanding the basics of cryptography is the key to recognizing the significance of the security technologies we encounter every day, which will then help us respond to them. What are the implications of connecting to an unprotected Wi-Fi network? Is it really so important to have different passwords for different accounts? Is it safe to submit sensitive personal information to a given app, or to convert money to bitcoin? In clear, concise writing, information security expert Keith Martin answers all these questions and more, revealing the many crucial ways we all depend on cryptographic technology. He demystifies its controversial applications and the nuances behind alarming headlines about data breaches at banks, credit bureaus, and online retailers. We learn, for example, how cryptography can hamper criminal investigations and obstruct national security efforts, and how increasingly frequent ransomware attacks put personal information at risk. Yet we also learn why responding to these threats by restricting the use of cryptography can itself be problematic. Essential reading for anyone with a password, Cryptography offers a profound perspective on personal security, online and off.

30 review for Cryptography: The Key to Digital Security, How It Works, and Why It Matters

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Pickens

    This a good well-organized introduction to cybersecurity for inexperienced users. It is not a technical manual for people that work in information technology. I actually work in IT Security but I manage the policy side not the implementation side. The book covers basic terms and provides lots of analogies to help you understand the concepts. It could use more illustrations for people that are visual learners.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fred P

    This book is for everyone, not just security professionals. It explains the history of cryptography and how it is used today. The author uses though experiments and analogies to explain complex authentication protocols. To the companies that we do business with online, we are known only by our cryptographic key.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ninja

    This is a very accessible book that attempts to explain the history, advantages and disadvantages of cryptography, especially its implementation in all our digital devices. You don't have to have a background in computer science, PKI, and digital encryption to read it, but it might help. The book helped me understand that I was on the right track when it comes to what I need to do to ensure my security in cyberspace. It also helped me understand, there is a certain amount of risk and cost assess This is a very accessible book that attempts to explain the history, advantages and disadvantages of cryptography, especially its implementation in all our digital devices. You don't have to have a background in computer science, PKI, and digital encryption to read it, but it might help. The book helped me understand that I was on the right track when it comes to what I need to do to ensure my security in cyberspace. It also helped me understand, there is a certain amount of risk and cost assessment that needs to be done when considering security solutions. I enjoyed it and geekily admit that at some points, it was a page turner for me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Monica Willyard Moen

    Cryptography is important to everyone who uses the Internet, whether we understand it or not. What I love about this book is that the author explains the basics of cryptography without requiring the reader to have an advanced computer science degree to understand it. The author does a very nice job of breaking down complex concepts, making them approachable for people who have busy lives and don’t want to spend weeks understanding things.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eerke Boiten

    The author is a professor of Information Security at the most established research group in the area in the UK, and I am a professor of Cyber Security in the UK too. Small enough world, so we know each other, though me coming to talk for an hour to his students and him sending me a copy of this book is as closely as we've collaborated so far. I read the book in its entirety and I think it's achieved its main target, to pass the "Dad test". It lays out many of the core issues of where cryptography The author is a professor of Information Security at the most established research group in the area in the UK, and I am a professor of Cyber Security in the UK too. Small enough world, so we know each other, though me coming to talk for an hour to his students and him sending me a copy of this book is as closely as we've collaborated so far. I read the book in its entirety and I think it's achieved its main target, to pass the "Dad test". It lays out many of the core issues of where cryptography solves information security problems in a very good way - to a reader with enough general intelligence and interest in the topic, without assuming any depth of understanding of computing let alone of all the nasty and beautiful underlying mathematics. This is an achievement - there is a book called "Cryptography made simple" which cheekily omits the rest of the title which is "if you're a brilliant mathematician already". (I'll buy that author a beer if he ever points out this comment to me. May even do so if he doesn't.) Not so with this one. Debate on how security interacts with society is becoming more and more central, and this is a tool to help in that. Read this if you want to contribute meaningfully to the debate on "end to end encryption should be made accessible to law enforcement". Not that I even fully agree with Keith on that topic, but he lays it out fairly. Read this if you want to see the common sense on hyped topics like bitcoin and blockchain, or quantum computing. Read this if you think that putting Keith Dacre in charge of policing online harms is a good idea, or if you think nobody should be anonymous on the internet. All our intelligent MPs should read this - I doubt there are more than a handful among the current lot whose insight wouldn't grow massively from it. But it's for general consumption too.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This is a great non-technical introduction to cryptography, which explains how it works and how it is used in practice in an engaging and lively way. It's explicitly and deliberately aimed at non-specialists in everyday language and analogies that the general reader can understand - you don't need a maths or computer science degree to follow it. But it is not dumbed down - it takes real skill and deep expertise to be able to write a book like this that is true to the subject, and the author has This is a great non-technical introduction to cryptography, which explains how it works and how it is used in practice in an engaging and lively way. It's explicitly and deliberately aimed at non-specialists in everyday language and analogies that the general reader can understand - you don't need a maths or computer science degree to follow it. But it is not dumbed down - it takes real skill and deep expertise to be able to write a book like this that is true to the subject, and the author has a strong pedigree as a Professor (and former Director) in the renowned Royal Holloway Information Security Group. As it happens I know the author (though I bought my own copy of the book, unprompted) and also teach in this field, and I would certainly recommend the book to anyone who wants to understand more about how cryptography impacts their life, or wants to understand more about the technology involved in ongoing public debates about online privacy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melinda M

    Cryptography: The Key to Digital Security, How It Works, and Why It Matters by Keith M. Martin is an introduction for people who do not know much about cryptography. It was interesting and easy to follow.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Flavia

    Highly readable even for those not in the field. This book packs a lot of information and food for thought into a relatively short, well-flowing text.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Augustina Rosenberry

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sim

  11. 4 out of 5

    KnygasLape

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicolaus Stengl

  13. 4 out of 5

    Justin Blount

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily Richuso

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bohdan Petrushchak

  17. 5 out of 5

    Unai

  18. 5 out of 5

    David Kellberg

  19. 4 out of 5

    Raj

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dave Sanders

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brid

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bluey

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

  26. 4 out of 5

    Philip

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stef

  28. 4 out of 5

    Denton Peter McCabe

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Hautamaki

  30. 5 out of 5

    Greenant

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