As stated, telecommunication is seen as an unreliable media for transporting secret messages. Therefore today, cryptography is needed more than ever before, especially for e-commerce.
Key cryptosystems try to provide more privacy.
The same key is used for both encryption and decryption. In this case the encipherer and the recipient of the message/text have to agree on a common key before the enciphering-process can start. And most of all they should trust each other. And exactly this is the main problem of this system: how to exchange the key without offering an opportunity for stealing it?
In former times messengers or pigeons were doing the exchange of those keys.
Symmetric-key systems make sense in small entities. If a lot of people are spread over a wide area and belong to the same network, distributing the keys starts getting complicated.
Today, those cryptosystems get controlled by other keys, based on highly complex mathematical algorithms.
some symmetric-key systems are:
- DES (Data Encryption Standard), the standard for credit cards
- Triple-DES, which is a variation of DES, encrypting the plaintext three times.
- IDEA (International Data Encryption Standard)
- blowfish encryption algorithm, which is said to be faster than DES and IDEA
Security and confidence are the key-words for a popular key-system: As DES and its successors have been used for so many years and by many people without having been broken, they are considered safe - safer than others, not used that frequently, no matter whether they are actually safer or not.
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