Cryptography Essay: Semester 1 Extra Credit

Extra Credit Semester 1

Write a 500 to 1000-word essay about one of the following topics involving cryptography. Be sure to cite your sources. Plagiarism to any extent will result in no extra credit.

  • Why were simple ciphers such as Caesar useful back in Julius Caesar’s time, and why did this technology evolve into more sophisticated ciphers such as Vigénere and beyond? How do these early ciphers compare to encryption which is used today?
  • Apple chief executive Tim Cook says the encryption used in IOS prevents everyone, including Apple and government agencies from accessing user data. “We’re not reading your e-mail, we’re not reading your iMessages,” Cook said on “Charlie Rose” last year. “If the government laid a subpoena on us to get your iMessages, we can’t provide it. It’s encrypted and we don’t have the key.

    This type of encryption has drawn criticism from some who argue that it may allow criminals and terrorists to “go dark”, and demand that these devices contain a backdoor, an undocumented master decryption key, for use by law enforcement. In fact, just last week, the New York State Assembly came up with a proposed bill that would ban encrypted mobile phones and slap manufacturers with a $2,500 fine per phone sold in the state of New York without a backdoor.

    Do you agree or disagree that a backdoor is a good idea? Cite at least three sources to support your view.

  • The speed of computer processors is increasing and we may soon discover that even the strongest cryptographic algorithms and encryption keys we use today can be cracked by computers in the future. The brute-force attack is one of the most common methods for cracking passwords. There are even popular brute-force programs that can be downloaded for free. What is a brute-force attack, and how can you protect yourself against it?