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Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  393 ratings  ·  37 reviews
This book is a clear and informative introduction to cryptography and data protection--subjects of considerable social and political importance. It explains what algorithms do, how they are used, the risks associated with using them, and why governments should be concerned. Important areas are highlighted, such as Stream Ciphers, block ciphers, public key algorithms, digit ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 29th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2002)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #68), Fred C. Piper, Sean Murphy

This book is a clear and informative introduction to cryptography and data protection--subjects of considerable social and political importance. It explains what algorithms do, how they are used, the risks associated with using them, and why governments should be concerned
Leisa Michelle
I'll get to straight to the point. This book isn't really for beginners or laymen. The first couple chapters were illuminating, interesting, and understandable. But if you've never had any exposure to cryptography (especially the technical terms and acronyms/abbreviations), the last half of this book will be completely unintelligible to you. I was disappointed.

I'll start with the good stuff though. The basics of cryptography as well as the descriptions and explanations of various ciphers through

Description: This book is a clear and informative introduction to cryptography and data protection--subjects of considerable social and political importance. It explains what algorithms do, how they are used, the risks associated with using them, and why governments should be concerned. Important areas are highlighted, such as Stream Ciphers, block ciphers, public key algorithms, digital signatures, and applications such as e-commerce. This book highlights the explosive impact of cryptography on
Daniel Wright
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Was expecting this to be dry - was in fact quite good. Very practical as well - in the age of the internet, it pays to know how your information is being kept safe. The book is based on a university course aimed at trainee IT professionals, although it is getting to be out of date (2002).

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Understanding cryptography
Chapter 3: Historical algorithms: simple examples
Chapter 4: Unbreakable ciphers?
Chapter 5: Modern algorithms
Chapter 6: Practical security
Chapter 7: Use
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: university, security
This is an excellent and short introduction (155 pages!) into the world of Cryptography. Cryptography is the name of the science that concerns itself with secret coding (or encryption) of information to be protected from loss of confidentiality, integrity and authenticity. It is one the oldest sciences that nations and military used to concern themselves with as it is such a crucial and vital element of the war or even running governments.

To give you an example, breaking the Enigma cipher playe
Ollie Ford
Nov 24, 2012 rated it liked it
An interesting insight, though I found it lacking in areas I would have been interested in more detail,and perhaps overly generous in others.
Aleksandar Ovnarski
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Since I like puzzles, a friend asked me if I had ever touched upon cryptography, which, as he called it, is the ultimate game of puzzle solving. I had not considered this point of view, but did acquiesce immediately that at the very least it must be important to learn about computer security in some detail, as all people can, on average, benefit from improving their computer security, and I'm not immune to the law of averages (or from bad password choices). The subject though, seemed intimidatin ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to cryptography and related aspects such as key management and public key infrastructure/certificate authorities. I especially liked that the authors tried to cover the entire subject in a holistic fashion instead of just focusing on one narrow application (such as encrypting messages). It is a non-technical book that nevertheless is easier to read if you have at least some basic knowledge of computers and maths.

My favorite part were the small exercises which made you thi
M. Ashraf
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: vsi
Short Simple book about Cryptography and its different algorithms since the dawn of time till the modern day :p
From Caesar Cipher to modern block chains and certificates it was a great read and not that specific too mostly in layman terms without major math which was O.K but not giving you the whole picture on the subject which is not that bad as an introduction.
For more in depth study you can find courses on Coursera or Edx on the subject which I recommend to dive more into it and the differen
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good and concise (133 pages) intro to some cryptography fundamentals that is always good to review. All with quite interesting historical remarks (the confederates using a Vigenère cipher during the American civil war when was already broken!) and practical examples (GSM, ATMs, etc).
Sebastián Püschel Løvengreen
Bought this book after visiting Bletchley park. Good introduction to the topic, the authors make an effort to keep it simple and for me it was an easy read, however, it is important to point out that I have training in computer science and maths.
Dušan Maďar
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: in-english
As the title states - it a (very short) introduction. Although, it could be a bit more detailed on some topics (e.g. SSL).
Chris Sharpe
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I think it would be hard to follow for someone who didn't already know something about these topics, but glossed over details that would be interesting to someone who does. ...more
Lumos Ktbspa
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
Easy to understand and keep in mind.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good intro to crypto, and great section about PKIs.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
If I were asked for a recommendation for an introduction to cryptography, especially a Very Short one, then yes, I would recommend this book. I didn't know anything about cryptography when I started, and now I feel I have a basic sense of what they mean by 128-bit encryption, a one-time pad, hash functions, and key management. By that measure, this book accomplished its goal.

However, there are still some pretty serious problems with the presentation of material. The writers are experts on the s
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Cryptography, by necessity, is a complex subject. If it were simple, it wouldn't serve its purpose. I think the authors have done an exceptionally good job of explaining the principles without going very deep into the particulars.

Perhaps partially because of its complexity, and of course its pervasive presence in everyday life - cryptography is also fascinating. Do you want to know how an ATM protects your PIN - or why you can shop safely online? Do you want to learn what the safest code in the
Gerard Brown
May 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
The authors strenuously assert that this is a layman's introduction, and they keep to their word. But, as others have noted, that doesn't necessarily result in a very readable book...I could have wished for a clearer organization of the material (why do we wait until the very end of the book - after long slogs through some very abstract descriptions of relationships - to offer demonstrations of the practical applications of cryptography in contemporary life?). I found myself glazing over on the ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it
I found this at my local library but was pleased to find the entire series on a spinner rack at a local, large book store. If any of the other 205 books in this series are as good, I'm inclined to read them all. The authors have a clear grasp on the subject as well as how to introduce a complex subject to both the layman and the average crytpologist or mathematician. It's not as visually pleasing as Stephen Pincock's Codebreaker but it's also much more concise. ...more
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I like this book so much that when I didn't understand some of the symbols and terms, I looked them up on Wikipedia. Probably most readers know more than I did (that 'n' is the end or complete set of items in a set, and 'i' is for item.) Don't be daunted. It's a fascinating read. It passes the test of reading a book on a new subject: it made me want to read more. ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: compsci, maths, vsi
Pretty good introduction - covers some of the neat historical background whilst still finding time for modern applications.

It would have been nice if it had covered the use of salts in hash functions though, and perhaps gone into slightly more detail on asymmetric encryption algorithms (as one is left feeling they are somewhat magical).

But it does very well for it's length!
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it
I read about the "Magic" breakers of the Japanese codes and watched a dramatization of the Bletchley Circle women on British TV. So I thought I'd surely enjoy a book about cryptography. Perhaps I'd have enjoyed it more if I had more talent for it. Indeed, even the easiest example for solving evaded my best efforts. Oh well. Maybe you'll have better luck and more enjoyment. ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty good overview of cryptography. It covers a wide range of topics in a short book. It does gloss over quite a bit and can be confusing if you don't already have some knowledge of the subject. The Code Book is probably a much better introduction if you are looking for something more coherent. But, none-the-less this is a good book for getting your feet wet on the subject. ...more
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a fast trip from fundamental concepts to the everyday use of cryptography. I particularly enjoyed the stops at the use of encryption and at the key distribution challenges. The whole thing is put together in practical examples and you are then set to dive in details following the recommended references.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's good introduction to the field of cryptography. I really enjoyed their challenge cryptograms, there are still some that I have not yet solved. The further you get into the book, the harder it becomes to understand the concepts. The last couple chapters were challenging for me to keep up with. ...more
Jun 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: computing
A brilliant, sort introduction to Cryptography, with many references to other books and further reading. Perfect for anyone interested in the topic.
Oct 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fascinating topic, always. And as always, the VSI series produces a useful and well-done introductory guide. Good historical overview, and good explanations for those of us who are math-challenged.
David Hurst
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: technology
Useful introduction. but a little dated
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Annoying writing+translation style that repeats itself all over the book, some information about the subject is what made me finish it, but I wouldn't recommend reading it. ...more
Apr 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A good overview for the novice. The 2nd half was sort of boring.
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Professor Fred Piper was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the University of London in 1975 and has worked in information security since 1979. In 1985, he formed a company, Codes & Ciphers Ltd, which offers consultancy advice in all aspects of information security. He has acted as a consultant to over 80 companies including a number of financial institutions and major industrial companies in t ...more

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“Step 1: The sender places the present in the briefcase, which they lock with their padlock and remove their key. They then send the locked briefcase to the receiver. Note: While the briefcase is en route from sender to receiver, it is safe from all adversaries, because they cannot remove the padlock from the briefcase. However, the receiver is also unable to obtain the present. Step 2: The receiver locks the briefcase with their own padlock and removes the key. They then return it to the sender. Note: The briefcase is now locked with two padlocks so no one can get the present. Step 3: The sender uses their own key to remove their padlock from the briefcase and returns the briefcase to the receiver. Note: The only lock on the briefcase belongs to the receiver. Step 4: The receiver removes their padlock from the briefcase to obtain the present.” 0 likes
“In this simplistic example we have to admit that the sender has no way of knowing whose padlock is on the briefcase and that it might be possible for an adversary to impersonate the receiver and place their padlock on the briefcase. This is a problem that has to be addressed. The ‘Whose padlock is it?’ question in this briefcase example is similar to the ‘Whose public key is it?’ question that is so important when public key systems are used.” 0 likes
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