Blog: Kevin Henry - Understanding Cryptography

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One of the areas most feared by CISA, CISM, CISSP and Sec+ students is cryptography. It appears scary and confusing – but it does not have to be. Get started with the basics here.

Where to start?
In the end it is actually simple and logical so let’s take a quick look at the basic rules of cryptography – and in later editions we can dig a little deeper and broader.

As an instructor it is my responsibility to make it easy to understand and to know how to apply crypto in our workplaces. I´ve successfully trained thousands of people, so please be assured that I will be able to teach you as well :)

So let´s start at the beginning:

The language
One of the first steps to understanding crypto is to learn the language, the terminology. 

Crypto is the art and science (math) of converting a message in its natural form (plaintext or cleartext) into a form that is not intelligible (Ciphertext or cryptogram). 

This is done using an algorithm – a mathematical process that will convert the message either by substituting one value (e.g, character) with another or transposing the message by scrambling the letters in the message.

This is done using the key (cryptovariable) that ensures that everyone can use the same algorithm and yet not be able to read someone else’s message.

This allows the crypto user to ensure the confidentiality of the message – whether it is transmitted or stored. There are other benefits as well – but we can look at those later.

Simple right? 

Crypto has been around for thousands of years – as a manual process, mechanical and now electronic using software or a hardware chip – but in the end it is just the same as the Romans, Greeks and Babylonians did many years ago.

About Cryptosystems 
Most cryptosystems in use are based on symmetric algorithms. Simply put, an algorithm that uses the same key to both encrypt and decrypt the message – in fact the action of decrypting the message is just the inverse (the mirror image) of the process used to encrypt the message. There are many free symmetric algorithms such as AES (the Advanced Encryption Standard) that replaced the older DES (Data Encryption Standard), as well as RC5, MARS, Serpent, Blowfish and many others.

 Symmetric algorithms are relatively fast and provide very good confidentiality. These are ideal for encrypting large messages and thereby securing sensitive data.

 This is the first step – and it is good to memorize this before we move on to other areas that could otherwise get mixed up with these simple operations.

Are you with us so far? Keep an eye out for the next blog in the series, or join us for a training course, if you´re keen to learn faster.

We love to teach and share our passion – come join us at Readynez :)

You may be interested in these 1-day Masterclasses with Kevin:

You´re invited to join this live learning experience in a virtual space where you will get full access to insights and innovation from the true authorities.

We think you´re going to love these - Learn more and book directly on the links below:

Security - with Kevin Henry

Live Virtual Masterclass: CISSP Overview
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Come alone or bring your team for a strengthened direction with a tangible impact - but, don´t wait too long to book - seats are obviously very limited for this unique experience.

About Kevin Henry:

Your instructor has probably taught more IT-Security students than anyone else in the world and helped thousands of people prepare for the examination. As the former co-chair of the ISC2 CISSP CBK, he will provide you with valuable insight into the do's and dont's of Security training and provide tips on how to plan your own training roadmap. 

Learn more about Kevin here

13. May 2020

by Kevin Henry

Kevin Henry

Senior Instructor Readynez

Kevin Henry has served for many years as an authorized instructor for (ISC)2 and he is renowned for his 20 year contribution to learners training for IT security skills- and certifications such as the CISSP, CISM, CISA and CCSP everywhere in the world.

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