Cryptography: what it is and why you should use it on your phone so that they do not spy on you
Did you know that cryptography is present in your phone?
What would you do if you had to share a secret with someone over the phone and you didn’t want anyone to know? You probably use an encrypted message and then you would be applying cryptography. Cryptography is the art of writing with a secret key or in an enigmatic way, defines the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE). And this art is as old as the invention of writing itself by human beings. A clear example of this is the Rosetta stone found in the British Museum in London.
This stone contains a written decree attributed to the Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy V in the year 196 BC. And on the Rosetta Stone, almost the same content appears in three different scripts: Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script (which was the language of the Egyptians), and Ancient Greek.
So, the discovery of this stone in 1799 was a key element in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. But what role does cryptography have today? And how can it be that you use it every day without realizing it?
Cryptography is currently used to provide security guarantees for information. Cryptography offers keys capable of encrypting or decrypting that information using different techniques.”There is the transposition, which is when the characters are shuffled in some way so that the original message is not understood. Substitution is also used, which is where one character is replaced by another,” he lists. becoming more complex with mono-alphabetic, poly-alphabetic systems, and other techniques because the attacks also became more complicated,” Torrano, who works as a senior researcher at the cybersecurity company Eleven Paths, in Telefónica, Spain, tells BBC Mundo.
This means that the message is encrypted and if someone wanted to intercept it, attacking the phone, they would not be able to read the content because it is encrypted. And for this cryptography is usedBut then there are other types of data that it is inevitable that we cannot share. For example, the location information that is inseparable from the use of the cell phone because the telephone signal is captured by different repeaters.
“And we are giving that information to the telephone company and many times to other entities in a more unconscious way,” warns González Vasco, who is also co-director of the Science for Peace and Security project (SPS in English) of NATO on communications security in the quantum age.”There are also the applications that we use to buy or store our music that build a trail of information and that we often delegate unconsciously because we don’t read the app’s privacy policies,” she says.Although it may seem to you that nobody can care what you buy, where you move or what time you have your routines, your data can be extremely useful for many.
Leaving footprints in cryptocurrency
However, cryptography today is not only used to keep communication between two people secret. “Cryptography is everywhere. When we make a phone call, when we go to the bank to withdraw money… in many of the cases algorithms are being applied without us knowing,” adds Torrano. On the one hand, with the cell phone we call, we send messages through different applications, we take photos and videos that we also send.”That would be the conscious information that we transmit with our phones,” describes María Isabel González Vasco, professor of Applied Mathematics at the MACIMTE department of the Rey Juan Carlos University in Spain. And we know that much of this information is encrypted, for example if we use the WhatsApp or Telegram instant messaging applications that offer an end-to-end encryption service.
“That information can be sold and can be used for commercial purposes. If certain companies have a large amount of information on customers in an area and can control what kinds of things are bought in other stores, they can get a monopoly on the business of that area. locality without having to have competed fairly with price and quality”, explains González Vasco.”We cryptographers always say that it is much more powerful to tell a lie to each potential client built for him, than to tell a universal lie for everyone. It will be more effective to tell each one what they want to hear,” says the University professor King Juan Carlos of Spain.
“That’s why Facebook is a great business because the information it collects from users allows us to get a very precise idea of the type of consumption that person does, not to mention political and religious tendencies and other more sensitive issues,” she adds.