Review: Applied Cryptography
The rapid growth of computer technology, especially the Internet, as the preferred method of transferring information has lead to a sudden increase in public awareness of the need for privacy and secrecy. In just a few years, we have moved from having to safeguard physical materials (e.g., checks, ledgers, currency, and gold bullion) to needing to protect electronic signals that not only travel on many unguarded public wires but can be detected as they escape from the confines of our computers into the ether. Security is no longer a matter of installing a sufficiently strong safe and entrusting the keys to a faithful armed guard. Security in the information age has become a matter of scrambling data in such a way that prevents unauthorized recipients from understanding it, yet allows authorized receivers to make use of it.
In short, today’s secure information is encrypted. What this means, and how to go about achieving it, is central to Schneier’s excellent treatment of the art and science of cryptography. The book starts with a well-organized treatment of the concepts and basic strategies of encryption, the nature of random sequences, and protocols. On this foundation, Schneier builds his explanations of cryptographic techniques and, then, algorithms. He concludes with an examination of encryption in the real world, including many examples of implementations and political considerations and, finally, a wealth of source code for implementing many of the algorithms in C.
In all, Applied Cryptography synthesizes a thorough and thoroughly readable account of this important topic from over 900 sources. A comprehensive index is included and diskettes (DOS) containing the source code examples listed in the book are available from the author for a minimal fee. Everyone, from those merely interested in the debate over secure Internet transactions to those responsible for protecting their institution’s confidential records, will benefit from this book.