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Shorthand for “cryptographic System” is a computer system that uses cryptography. This is a way to protect information using codes.

Cryptosystems include the algorithms for key generation, encryption, and decryption to help protect data. A cryptographic key is the core of cryptographic operations. It is a string or bits that a cryptographic algorithm uses to convert plain text into encrypted text, or vice versa. This key is part of the variable data that is used to input a cryptographic algorithm in order to perform this type of operation. Security of a cryptographic scheme is dependent on the keys used.

For sending private information over the internet in a secure way, cryptosystems can be used. A system for secure electronic mail could also include digital signatures, cryptographic algorithms and key management methods.

Cryptosystem components

These are the components of a basic cryptosystem:

  • Plaintext- This data must be protected.
  • Encryption algorithm – This algorithm takes plaintext as an input and returns encrypted text. It generates the unique encryption key that is used to encrypt this text.
  • Ciphertext – This is an encrypted or unreadable version of plaintext.
  • The decryption algorithm- This algorithm takes ciphertext and converts it into plaintext. It also uses the unique encryption key to decrypt that text.
  • Encryption Key- This value is known to the sender and is used to calculate the ciphertext for a given plaintext.
  • Decryption key – This value is known to the receiver and is used to convert the given ciphertext to plaintext.

Types of cryptosystems

The method used to encrypt data is what categorizes cryptosystems. It can be either symmetrically encrypted or asymmetrically.

  1. Symmetric key encryption refers to when the cryptosystem uses the exact same key for encryption and decryption. This method uses the same key for encryption and decryption. The keys are shared between both parties before transmission. They are also changed frequently to protect against system attacks.
  2. Asymmetric key encryption refers to cryptosystems that use different keys for encryption or decryption. The keys are mathematically related. Each party receives their own pair, which is then exchanged during transmission.

Cryptosystem attack examples

Modern cryptography is complex and attackers are attracted to cryptographic systems because encryption is used for data security. Because of the advancements in CPU technology and new attack techniques, what is today considered strong encryption will not suffice in a few years.

These are some of the most common types of cryptographic attacks:

  • Brute force attacks try every combination of a key or password. Because there are more keys, brute force attacks take longer to execute.
  • A replay attack is when a malicious individual intercepts encrypted messages between two parties (such a request for authentication), and then “replays” that message to open a new session. This type of attack can be prevented by incorporating a time stamp or expiration period into each message.
  • A man-in the-middle attack ( MitM ) is when a malicious person sits between two parties to intercept communications. This includes the setting up of the cryptographic session. After responding to the originator’s initialization requests the attacker sets up a secure session and then creates another secure session with his intended recipient by using a different key. He posses as the originator. The attacker has full access to all traffic between them.
  • An implementation attack exploits vulnerabilities in the implementation of a cryptosystem to exploit them. This includes not only flaws and errors but also the logic implementation that allows the encryption system to function.
  • A statistical attack exploits statistical flaws in a cryptosystem such as floating point errors. A statistical attack could also be triggered by the inability of producing truly random numbers. Software-based random number generators are limited in their capacity so attackers could predict encryption keys. Statistical attacks target vulnerabilities in the operating system or hardware that hosts the cryptography application.
  • Because the attacker doesn’t have much information, a ciphertext only attack is one of most difficult cyber-attacks to commit. An attacker may start with unintelligible data, which he or she suspects to be an encrypted message. Then, he or she might gather ciphertext that can help him/her find trends or statistical data that could aid in an attack.
  • An attacker with a copy of the encrypted message and plaintext message used for generating the ciphertext may be able to crack weaker codes in a well-known plaintext attack. This attack aims to find the link, which is the cryptographic key used to encrypt the message. Once the key has been found, an attacker can decrypt any messages encrypted with that key.

 

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