Basic Cryptography (2020)

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The intent of the Basic Cryptography Knowledge Unit is to provide students with a basic ability to understand where and how cryptography is used.


After completing the KU, students will be able to:

  1. Construct the elements of a cryptographic system.
  2. Compare symmetric and asymmetric algorithms.
  3. Evaluate which cryptographic protocols, tools and techniques are appropriate for a given situation.
  4. Assess cryptographic weaknesses, failures, and implementation issues.
  5. Appraise the pros and cons of real world cryptographic applications.


  1. Common cryptographic uses
    • Security Functions (data protection, data integrity, authentication, non-repudiation)
    • Block vs. stream data
    • Digital Signatures (Authentication)
  2. Hash Functions (MD4, MD5, SHA-1, SHA-2, SHA-3)
    • Integrity checking
    • For protecting authentication data
    • Collision resistance
  3. Symmetric Cryptography (DES, Twofish)
  4. Public Key Cryptography(Diffie-Hellman, RSA, ECC, ElGamal, DSA)
    • Public Key Infrastructure
    • Certificates
    • Key Management (creation, exchange/distribution)
  5. Cryptography in practice
    • Common Cryptographic Protocols
    • DES -> AES (evolution from DES to AES)
    • Cryptographic Modes (and their strengths and weaknesses)
    • Cryptographic standards (FIPS 140 series)
  6. Cryptographic failures
    • Types of Attacks (brute force, chosen plaintext, known plaintext, differential and linear cryptanalysis, etc.)
    • Implementation failures


  1. Create a public/private key pair.
  2. Create a one-way hash and compare to a known hash value.
  3. Sign documents using a digital signature.
  4. Open an ssh session using a public/private key pair.
  5. Encrypt and decrypt a communication, file, or object using a symmetric key.

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