UPCryptography Resources

[Introduction] [Awareness] [Tools/Utilities] [Programming]

Introduction

Today the Internet can be compared with a global subway - some parts are well lit, well used and fairly safe. Unfortunately, there are also areas which are not quite so safe, and where the unwary are easy targets for the modern day highwayman.

The Internet is no longer a small conglomeration of academic networks. With increasing availability and access, groups of software developers are hard at work to produce the tools which businesses and end-users require. Often, in the race to be first to market, the protection of the privacy of the end user is given little thought, and is frequently inadequate. With a background of a small minority of network-anarchists actively seeking to exploit these weaknesses, the onset of commerce on the Internet is a concern of all users.

For example, one of the areas in which the Internet is currently vulnerable is to electronic eavesdropping. At one time, it did not matter that information you entered crossed the network 'in the clear' because everyone trusted that it would not be intercepted and read in transit. In the past, much of this information was also worthless - who would want to read your e-mail, or watch which web services you use. This means that many common Internet activities, such as surfing the web, and sending e-mail are not overly concerned with privacy of information as it crosses the network.

With increasing commercialisation, the worth of data crossing the network is increasing, and today includes credit card numbers, bank account details, and personal information. The need for a means to protect this information from interception and eavesdropping is obvious, and has lead to the deployment of cryptographic systems to achieve this goal.

A system of communication using a cryptographic system can scramble the data crossing the network to make it exceedingly difficult to eavesdrop. For example, a web browser connecting to a web server which supports a cryptographic protocol called SSL can protect data crossing the network, and such schemes are in use today at banks, online shops and a number of other organisations which provide services across the Internet. An e-mail tool called PGP is available to allow e-mail to be encrypted so that only the recipient can read it.

My aims for these pages encompass a number of key areas.

The Internet is an excellent resource which is going through a time of rapid change and expansion. By being aware of the risks, you can enjoy this resource to the full, without exposing yourself to the dangers lurking out there!

Stay informed
Stay safe

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Last Updated: 27-Oct-2002