vb.net barcode scanner tutorial Figure 2-3 If attackers try numbers other than the secret value, they get only more gibberish in Software

Printer Code 39 in Software Figure 2-3 If attackers try numbers other than the secret value, they get only more gibberish

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If an attacker somehow obtains a copy of the gibberish and feeds it to the program for recovery, it won t work. The program asks for the number, which the attacker does not know. It s possible to try numbers at random (or to try all possible numbers systematically), but every time a wrong number is inserted, the application simply spits out different gibberish (see Figure 2-3).
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Figure 2-3 If attackers try numbers other than the secret value, they get only more gibberish
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Even though someone can use the same program Pao-Chi used, it never re-creates the original file without the secret number. Even if the attacker guesses a number close to the original number, even if it is off by only 1, the program will not produce anything close to the correct encrypted file.
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The system we ve just described is known as symmetric-key cryptography. Some people call it secret-key cryptography. Here are some official terms.
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When you want to convert sensitive information to gibberish, you encrypt the data. To convert it back, you decrypt it. To do this, you use an algorithm. The word algorithm is a scientific term for a recipe or step-by-step procedure. It is a list of instructions or things to do in a particular order. An algorithm might have a rigid list of commands to follow, or it might contain a series of questions and depending on the answers, describe the appropriate steps to follow. A mathematical algorithm might list the operations to perform in a particular order to find x. For example, an automobile diagnostic algorithm may ask questions about oil pressure, torque, fluid levels, temperature, and so on, to determine what s wrong. A computer program can also implement an algorithm, meaning the program converts the algorithm s list of commands, questions, and operations into the computer s language, enabling it to perform the steps in the appropriate order. In computer cryptography, algorithms are sometimes complex mathematical operations or simply bit manipulations. Many encryption algorithms exist, and each one has its own particular list of commands or steps. Just as you can have a program that plays Solitaire or one that computes the trajectory of satellites, you can have a program that implements an encryption algorithm that takes your data and converts it to gibberish. The data that you want to keep secret is called plaintext (some call it cleartext). Your plaintext could be a human-readable text file, such as the memo. Or it could be a binary file, which looks like nonsense to human eyes but makes perfect sense to a computer program. For example, if you open a PowerPoint file using Windows Edit text editor, the file looks like gibberish because the program can t convert the PowerPoint formatting information; but if you open the same file in PowerPoint, it appears as intended. Whether or not your information is readable by a human or a given program, it s called plaintext. After the data is encrypted, it s known as ciphertext. The algorithm encrypts your plaintext into ciphertext, but it needs one more thing a key. In our sales rep example, the secret number used to encrypt the pricing memo was its key. In computer crypto, the key is always a number or a set of numbers. We ve also met the attacker, someone trying to steal information. Actually, an attacker may try to do more than simply uncover someone else s secrets. Some attackers try to pose as people they are not, disable Web sites, delete someone else s information, prevent customers from buying at a particular online merchant, slow down systems, and on and on and on. The term attacker is simply a catchall for the individual from whom you must protect your digital assets.
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