Report: Cryptography

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  Digital Signatures, Timestamps etc

Most computer systems are far from being secure.
A lack of security - it is said - might hinder the developments of new information technologies. Everybody knows electronic transactions involve a more or less calculated risk. Rumors about insecurity let consumers doubt whether the commodity of e-commerce is bigger or its risks. First of all the market depends on the consumer's confidence. To provide that another application for public key cryptography gets essential: the digital signature, which is used to verify the authenticity of the sender of certain data.
It is done with a special private key, and the public key is verifying the signature. This is especially important if the involved parties do not know one another. The DSA (= Digital Signature Algorithm) is a public-key system which is only able to sign digitally, not to encrypt messages. In fact digital signature is the main-tool of cryptography in the private sector.

Digital signatures need to be given for safe electronic payment. It is a way to protect the confidentiality of the sent data, which of course could be provided by other ways of cryptography as well. Other security methods in this respect are still in development, like digital money (similar to credit cards or checks) or digital cash, a system that wants to be anonymous like cash, an idea not favored by governments as it provides many opportunities for money laundry and illegal transactions.

If intellectual property needs to be protected, a digital signature, together with a digital timestamp is regarded as an efficient tool.

In this context, the difference between identification and authentication is essential. In this context smartcards and firewalls are relevant, too.

A lot of digital transactions demand for passwords. More reliable for authentication are biometric identifiers, full of individual and unrepeatable codes, signatures that can hardly be forged.

For more terms of cryptography and more information see:

browse Report:
-3   Key-Systems
-2   Asymmetric or Public-Key-Cryptosystems
-1   Steganography
0   Digital Signatures, Timestamps etc
+1   Another Question of Security
+2   Another Question of Security
+3   Key Recovery Systems