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.


To complete this KU, students should be able to do the following:

  1. Students will be able to identify the elements of a cryptographic system.
  2. Students will be able to describe the differences between symmetric and asymmetric algorithms.
  3. Students will be able to describe which cryptographic protocols, tools and techniques are appropriate for a given situation.
  4. Students will be able to describe how crypto can be used, strengths and weaknesses, modes, and issues that have to be addressed in an implementation (e.g., key management), etc.


  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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