The 100% Unbreakable Encryption Code
The ability to encrypted secret or important documents has been around for centuries. The ancient Greek State of Sparta was the first to employ cryptology methods to protect important military communications. A baton device called a Scytale was used to encrypt military information which was relayed to commanders on the battlefield. Each commander had an exact duplicate of the baton in shape, size and dimensions used to encrypt the original message.
The baton was the encryption key necessary to decrypt the message as sent. The ideal was, without the duplicate baton the message was considered secure. It was possible the baton could be stolen or even fall into enemy hands. In which case, the secret information being transmitted could be decoded. Also, the encryption algorithm was not necessarily complicated and could be broken.
• Data Encryption Standard (D.E.S.)
• Advanced Encryption Standard (A.E.S.)
• Encryption: Method by which data or information is rendered into a cipher form, that cannot be read without the exact key to unlock message
• Plaintext: Original message
• Ciphertext: The encrypted message
• Decoded cipher: Message decrypted using an encryption algorithm or key to reveal the original plaintext message
During the times of Julius Caesar a more advanced cryptology method was developed to replace the Scytale. This cryptology method became known as the Caesar Cipher. The concept involved moving letters a fixed distance around a circle of letters to create an encrypted message. The Caesar Cipher represented a significant improvement over the inherit vulnerability of the Scytale by allowing shifted letters to represent letters of the plaintext message. The letter “A”, for example, might be shifted 5 places in the message. The original text character would now correspond to the letter “F” which represents the 5th letter of the alphabet. By repeating this process important messages, could be sufficiently encrypted to allow secret communication to be transmitted.
In the case of Caesar Cipher, the key was to shift each letter of plaintext message 1-25 places. The number zero “0” cannot be used because the result would yield no shift in the position of ciphertext letters. Therefore, the message would not be encrypted.
The Caesar Cipher, like most ciphers, has a mathematical inherited weakness. The Caesar Cipher shifted letters of the alphabet. Therefore, the key is limited mathematically to 25 possible shift places. Today, modern computers can use very complex and sophisticated encryption algorithms like D.E.S or AES to encrypted important information using 256 bit keys.
Given enough time and computing power, almost all ciphers can be broken using a method called brute force attack which simply test every possible combination of letters, symbols and numbers until the encryption key is found. In the case of Caesar Cipher, one would need to try 25 shifts in characters before breaking the code to reveal the plaintext original message.
In today’s high-tech computer age, even advanced encryption algorithms are vulnerable and can be broken overtime, with one exception, the one-time pad. During the World War II era Soviet spies and other intelligence officers would use the one-time pad method to transmits and send important top-secret messages back to their handlers or head quarters. The ciphertext created is 100% unbreakable. The encryption algorithm to create a one-time pad is simple, in principal, but difficult to implement and control for large-scale information transmissions. However, when the encryption code is used for short messages, the inconvenience factor verses the privacy factor cannot be beaten.
This is how to generate a one-time pad:
Step 1: Select random letters of the alphabet equal to the length of message being sent. Using phrases out of books like War and Peace or the Declaration of Independence are not recommended. The one-time pad power lies in the randomness of the keys generated.
Step 2: Create a message of equal length of number of random numbers used to create the key. For example, if the message is 25 characters long the key must also be 25 characters long.
Here is an example of a one-time pad using a six letter key code:
Random Text: BFDAGJ
“B” is the first random letter and represents two (2) letter shifts in the alphabet. The next letter in the same column is “S” which is the 19th letter of the alphabet.
The one-time pad encryption algorithm is: (2 + 19) – 1 = 20.
The number 20 corresponds to the letter “T” which represents the first letter in the ciphertext. The same process is repeated for each column of the six columns.
To decode the message use the same random letter code generated. Each party must have the exact random code generated to decrypt the message successfully.
The first letter of the cipher text “T” equals 20 and the first letter of the random key “B” represents two (2) shifts. Therefore, (20-2) +1 = 19. The number 19 equals the letter “S” which is the first letter of the secret message. If result is negative integer add 26.
Now, let us assume enemy secures the cipher text and was trying to decode the message using brute force techniques that tries various combinations of letters in order to decrypt the text. The message below will be changed slightly to demonstrate.
Random text: OJXGGZ
Notice the ciphertext is identical to one above which yielded the message “secret”. However, when the enemy breaks the code, it reveals the word “failed” and not “secret”. Therefore, despite having the same ciphertext, without knowledge of the original random key code, the message cannot be decrypted to reflect the intended message.
The power of one-time pad is based on randomness and order of letters used to generate the key code. If one used a common or recognizable phrase like one from the Declaration of Independence the key code could be broken with time and knowledge of the key being linked to the Declaration of Independence.