Cryptography: What is it and what is it used for?

There is a technique capable of altering the way data is represented so that it is unintelligible, its name is cryptography. Want to know what it’s about? Keep reading.


What is cryptography?

Cryptography is a method of protecting data and sensitive information used in online communications. It works by applying codes that can only be read by people designated to process the information.

Cryptography transforms data so that it is very difficult to decipher, thus contributing to the generation of keys, privacy protection, web browsing and confidentiality in important data for digital users such as credit cards and emails.

Now, if you are wondering where the idea came from, keep reading, we have this answer for you.

History of Cryptography

The history of cryptography goes back to 2000 BC specifically with the practice of hieroglyphics which the Egyptians used to make complex pictograms whose meaning was known only by a small group or elite.

If we look at the etymological meaning of the word, we find the following: kryptos derives from Greek and means hidden.

For more details, the prefix “crypt” means hidden or vault, while the suffix “grafía” means writing.

The first use of a modern cipher is attributed to Julius Caesar, between the years 100 BC to 22 BC, who developed a system in which each character was replaced by a character three positions ahead of it in the Roman alphabet. Method he created because he did not trust his own messengers.

Over time, this system evolved in the hands of mathematicians and computer scientists around the world who saw potential use in a modality that offers them the ability to store and transfer confidential data.

Next we tell you more about the various types of cryptographies that exist today.

Types of Cryptography

Cryptography has two types of algorithms in use, they are: symmetric cryptography, asymmetric cryptography, each one has its own definition:

Symmetric Cryptography

Also known as secret key cryptography, it is the same key for managing operations that have a symmetric scheme since encryption and decryption of information is implemented.

It is used in many occasions, many of them are related to maintaining the confidentiality of certain information or data; that is, you can keep a local hard drive or messages transmitted via the internet very well guarded or in privacy because the key will only be shared with certain users.

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Asymmetric Cryptography

Also called public key cryptography, it is one that uses related keys, one public and one private, in order to encrypt and decrypt a message.

Some of its applications are: secure communications, credit or debit cards, electronic transfers between banks, among others.

For this cryptography, two keys are required: a public one, which is sent to any user with whom a communication is to be established and is responsible for encrypting the message; and a private one, which is not shared and, to access the message, it must be decrypted.

In this instance, the mathematical calculations are complex because they require many more resources than those handled in the symmetric structure.

So, the main benefit is that it guarantees greater data security and reduces the possibility of a cybercriminal discovering the key in the transmission process.

Now, why is cryptography important in the digital world? Continue reading because we tell you the details.

What importance does cryptography have?

The importance of cryptography is that, nowadays, it is one of the methods in charge of protecting information; that is, it maintains privacy, computer security, integrity and authenticity of the data.

In addition, it helps to restrict information from unauthorized accesses, thus ensuring its confidentiality.

The application of this digital methodology is mainly used in places such as computer networks and in all data stored in fixed and removable media. If you want to know more, we detail it below.

Where is cryptography used?

Cryptography can be used in two disciplines: cryptology and cryptanalysis. This latter refers to one of the branches of cryptography that deals with breaking codes and creating techniques for encryptions in efficient methods.

But, if we go to everyday life, cryptography can be used in various techniques that facilitate a service rendering; for example, when a customer withdraws money from an ATM, performs some digital renewal through a streaming application or digital file storage or emails.

Just as it is also frequently used in web browsing and to make some connection of a device.

This means, then, that in any of the cases, cryptography is based on four specific objectives: confidentiality, integrity, non-repudiation and authentication. All of them fulfill criteria of cryptosystems that regulate human behavior.

What is cryptography used for?

In terms of blockchain technology, this method is used to ensure the security and privacy of transactions and of the information stored in the blockchain. Some of the ways that cryptography is used in the blockchain are:

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To authenticate user identity

Cryptography is used to authenticate user identity and ensure that only authorized users can access the blockchain network and make transactions.

To protect the privacy of transactions

Cryptography is used to ensure that only the parties involved in a transaction can see the details of the transaction, which protects the privacy of the users.

To ensure data integrity

Cryptography is used to ensure that the information stored on the blockchain cannot be altered or modified fraudulently.

To create and verify smart contracts

Cryptography is used to create and verify smart contracts, which are automated agreements that execute autonomously when certain conditions are met.

For these reasons, cryptography is an essential part of blockchain technology.

What are the most commonly used cryptographic techniques?

As mentioned previously, cryptography is the study of techniques and tools used to protect information and ensure privacy and security in communication. The most common cryptographic techniques are symmetric key encryption, asymmetric key encryption, hashing and digital signature.

Therefore, it is natural that it is widely used in blockchain technology. In this regard, some of the common cryptographic techniques used in the blockchain are:

Symmetric Encryption

This type of encryption uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt the information. It is fast and efficient, but requires both parties to securely share the same key.

Asymmetric Encryption

This type of encryption uses a pair of public and private keys. The public key is used to encrypt the information and the private key is used to decrypt it. It is more secure than symmetric encryption but also slower.

Digital Signature

The digital signature is a technique used to verify the authenticity of an electronic message or document. A private key is used to sign the document and a public key is used to verify the signature.


Cryptography and blockchain technology are two related technologies that are used to protect the privacy and security of information and to ensure the integrity of data stored on the blockchain.

Also, the data circulating on the internet today makes the world continue its development process. Without it, it would be impossible to perform certain activities and operations of daily life. That is the importance of this methodology.