Coding theory and cryptography are two well-known areas of information security as both are necessary for today’s technology oriented; online-based world. However, many wonder what is the difference between coding theory and cryptography? Essentially, coding theory is associated with error correcting codes. When learning about coding theory, remember these three associated terms:

  1. Data Compression: the concept of data compression is about the most efficient way of encoding information so it takes up as little space as possible and this can be accomplished via removing redundancy from the data via source encoding.
  1. Error Correcting Codes: Error correcting codes are used to improve communication reliability over noisy channels which is accomplished by adding redundancy.
  1. Cryptography (sometimes called cryptology): Cryptography concerns the security, privacy, and confidentiality of information transmitted over a secure channel. The CIA tirad plays an important role in cryptography.

Coding theory and cryptography share an almost contradictory relationship in that the goal of cryptography is to render data unintelligible to all but the intended recipient whereas error-correcting codes attempt to ensure data is decodable despite any disruptions introduced by the medium. Data compression and error correction also contrast one another in that the former involves compaction and the latter data expands the data. A basic problem of coding theory is that noise over a network can distort a message, so the ultimate goals of the coding theory are error detection, then error correction.Cryptography is a fascinating field because when you truly take the time to think about it, the roots can be traced back thousands of years. Throughout history, people have had the desire to keep important information away from others. During battles, kings and generals communicated with troops via basic cryptographic methods to keep important military information from the enemy. Julius Caesar had a simple cipher which bears his name. Cryptography truly exploded during World War II. It is said that cryptography played a pivotal role in the victory of the West over the Nazi regime. Now, protecting information such as credit card and Social Security numbers is more important than ever. Today’s cryptography not only has the goal of protecting information but is also used as a tool to solve real-world problems which require information security. Objectives of modern cryptography include:

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Data integrity
  3. Authentication
  4. Non-repudiation
  5. Secret sharing

Protecting information is vital to our way of life. Coding theory along with modern cryptography is crucial in achieving this and offering valuable protecting against things such as fraud and identity theft.

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