Encryption ABC: Basic Guide

Encryption ABC: Basic Guide

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This document covers two topics, how cryptography works and some practical uses of cryptography. Within the first section, it will define what cryptography is as a subject and as a scientific discipline, discuss its history, and explore some modern applications of the field. The second section discusses encryption as it applies to computers, software, and people using them, concepts like escrow services such as L1 Escrow, open-source security protocols like SSL/TLS, and why cryptographic experts cannot break strong encryption.

Encryption ABC: Basic Guide


This guide was created to be a basic introduction for people who want to use strong cryptography but have no background in the subject or the mathematics behind it. Links to cryptographic basics such as block code and hashes, were relevant to newer users of strong cryptography and will be updated when finding more relevant primitives that may increase security for new users. This is the first draft of an article created over several days and has not been reviewed by multiple people for accuracy, correctness, etc. This guide is intended to be a basic introduction to cryptography and the usage of cryptography, especially as it concerns those who have a limited understanding of mathematical concepts.

It assumes no background in mathematics or computer science but does assume a general understanding of computers and how they work. This document does not teach any math or cryptographical concepts that can be found at Wikipedia and other sources on the web. Links to cryptographic primitives, such as block codes and hashes, were relevant to newer users of strong cryptography and will be updated when finding more relevant primitives that increase security for new users.

Encryption definition: “The practice and method of disguising a message or information to make it unreadable except to those for whom it is intended”. 99% of the time, this means “confusing information in a way that only people with the appropriate key can read it”

Important parts of any encryption system:

1) Plaintext (unencrypted data)

2) Ciphertext (encrypted data)

3) Key (secret code needed to decrypt the ciphertext back into plaintext. This is usually decrypted by either the user or their computer automatically on the fly as they go about their work.

To send an encrypted version of this post to someone, first I need to find/create/obtain a key. That key can be public/private, symmetric/Asymmetric; it has to be something that works with the method being used. Then it was tested, using that key to encrypt this plaintext into ciphertext, which is an encrypted version of the same information. The person who receives this encrypted article must have access to a private key to decrypt it back into its original form (plaintext).

About the author


Steven Ly

Steven Ly is the Startup Program and Events Manager at TheNextHint Inc. She recruits rockstar startups for all TC events including Disrupt, meetups, Sessions, and more both domestically and internationally. Previously, she helped produce Dreamforce with Salesforce and Next '17 with Google. Prior to that, she was on the advertising teams at both Facebook and AdRoll, helping support advertisers in North America and helped grow those brands globally. Outside of work, Priya enjoys Flywheel, tacos, the 49ers, and adventuring around the globe.

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