Cryptography Guide for Cyber Threat Intel
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. Cryptography Basics
  2. Classification of Cryptography
  3. Symmetric Encryption
  4. Asymmetric Encryption
  5. Hash Functions
  6. Digital Signatures
  7. Public Key Infrastructure
  8. Cryptanalysis Methods
  9. Application of Cryptography in Cyber Threat Intelligence
  10. Future of Cryptography in Cyber Security

If you've ever wondered about the role of cryptography in cyber threat intelligence, you're in the right place. This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of cryptography—how it works, its types, and its applications in the sphere of cyber threat intelligence. It's a fascinating journey, and there's no better time than now to get started!

Cryptography Basics

Let's start at the very beginning. Cryptography, at its most basic, is the practice of securing communication. When we talk about cryptography in the context of cyber threat intelligence, we're referring to how we secure data and information from prying eyes and unauthorized access.

So, how does it work? Cryptography uses mathematical algorithms to transform plain text into an unreadable format, known as ciphertext. This process is known as encryption. The reverse process—turning ciphertext back into plain text—is known as decryption. Only those with a specific key can decrypt the information, ensuring it remains secure.

Here's a quick rundown of the key terms you need to know:

  • Plain Text: This is the original, readable information that you want to secure.
  • Ciphertext: This is the encrypted, unreadable version of the plain text.
  • Encryption: This is the process of turning plain text into ciphertext.
  • Decryption: This is the process of turning ciphertext back into plain text.
  • Key: This is a piece of information that dictates the output of the encryption or decryption process.

Understanding these basics is your first step in exploring the vast world of cryptography in cyber threat intelligence. Remember, the goal here is to ensure that our digital communication remains secure from cyber threats. By encrypting our data, we're putting up a powerful barrier against these threats.

Classification of Cryptography

Now that we've got the basics down, let's split cryptography into its main categories. There are three main types: Symmetric, Asymmetric and Hash functions. Each has its unique features and uses in the realm of cyber threat intelligence.

Symmetric Encryption

Think of Symmetric encryption like a lockbox that opens with a single key. The same key that locks the box, unlocks it. In this type of encryption, the same key is used for both encryption and decryption. This makes it fast and efficient, but there's a catch—sharing the key securely can be a challenge. Imagine if you had to share the lockbox key with a friend. You wouldn't want someone else to get hold of it, would you?

Asymmetric Encryption

Asymmetric encryption, on the other hand, uses two keys—a public key for encryption and a private key for decryption. It's like having one key to lock the box and a different one to unlock it. This solves the key sharing problem of symmetric encryption. You can share the public key with anyone, without worrying about your data's security. Only your private key can decrypt the data.

Hash Functions

Then we have Hash functions, a whole different beast. They transform plain text into a fixed size string of characters, which is nearly impossible to reverse. It's like shredding a document—you can't put it back together. In cyber threat intelligence, hash functions are used to ensure data integrity. If even one character of the original data changes, the hash output changes completely. This way, you can quickly check if your data has been tampered with.

Understanding these classifications of cryptography is vital in navigating the world of cyber threat intelligence. Each has its own strengths and challenges, and knowing which one to use when is a key part of staying safe in the digital world.

Symmetric Encryption

Let's dive a little deeper into Symmetric Encryption. Remember the lockbox example? This type of encryption is also known as 'secret key' encryption. It's the oldest and simplest form of encryption, where a single key is used to both encrypt and decrypt data.

Why is it called 'symmetric', you ask? Well, because the process is the same for both locking and unlocking. The same mathematical operations are used, just in reverse order. It's like using a combination lock—you turn the dial right to lock it, and left to unlock it.

Now, you might be wondering—where does this type of encryption come into play in cyber threat intelligence? Great question! Symmetric encryption is often used when large amounts of data need to be encrypted. It's faster and less resource-intensive than its counterpart, asymmetric encryption. So, next time you're downloading a huge file, remember—it might just be symmetric encryption at work!

However, symmetric encryption is not without its pitfalls. The biggest challenge lies in securely exchanging the key. If the key falls into the wrong hands during transmission, the encrypted data can be decrypted and read. It's like losing the key to your lockbox—anyone who finds it can open the box.

So, while symmetric encryption has its advantages, it's important to keep its limitations in mind when using it in the field of cyber threat intelligence.

Asymmetric Encryption

Let's now turn to its counterpart, Asymmetric Encryption. If Symmetric Encryption is like a combination lock, Asymmetric Encryption is more like a mailbox. Stay with me here.

With a mailbox, you have two keys. One key (public) can only lock or insert mail into the box. But it takes a different key (private) to unlock the box and access the mail. This is the essence of Asymmetric Encryption—two different keys for locking (encrypting) and unlocking (decrypting).

So, how does this come into play in cyber threat intelligence? Asymmetric encryption is often used for securing sensitive data, especially during transmission. It's a bit like sending a secret message—you write the message, lock it in a box, and send the box to your friend. Even if someone intercepts the box, they can't read the message because they don't have the private key to open it.

However, like all things in life, Asymmetric Encryption is not perfect. It's slower and requires more computing resources than Symmetric Encryption. So, it's less suitable for encrypting large amounts of data. Plus, managing and securing the private keys can be a bit tricky.

Nevertheless, Asymmetric Encryption plays a pivotal role in ensuring the security of data transmission in the realm of cyber threat intelligence. Remember, it's not about finding the perfect tool, but rather the right tool for the job!

Hash Functions

Picture this—you're in a huge library, and you need to find a specific book. You know the title, but there are so many books that it's impossible to find the one you need quickly. Enter the librarian, who looks up the title in a catalog and gives you the exact location of your book. In cryptography, hash functions are like that librarian.

A hash function takes an input (like a book title) and returns a fixed-size string of bytes (like the location of the book). The output is unique to each unique input. Even a tiny change in the input will produce a vastly different output. This is why hash functions are integral to cryptography in cyber threat intelligence.

Hash functions are used in various aspects of cybersecurity. For instance, they can be used to check the integrity of data during transmission. If the hashed value of the received data matches the hashed value of the data that was sent, you can be confident that the data hasn't been tampered with.

Hash functions also play a big role in password security. When you set up a password for an online account, the system doesn't actually store your password. Instead, it stores the hashed value of your password. This way, even if a bad actor gains access to the system, they can't figure out your password from the hashed value.

So, hash functions are pretty cool, right? Just remember—like all parts of cryptography, they're just one tool in the toolbox. It's about finding the right tool for the job and using it effectively.

Digital Signatures

Imagine you are sending a letter to a friend. You want to make sure your friend knows the letter is from you and hasn't been altered in transit. So, you sign it. In the digital world, we use something called a digital signature.

A digital signature is a mathematical scheme for demonstrating the authenticity of a digital message or document. It's like a virtual fingerprint that is unique to each person and cannot be forged. Not only does it confirm the identity of the sender, but it also ensures that the content hasn't been changed during transmission.

In the realm of cryptography in cyber threat intelligence, digital signatures are crucial. They help verify the integrity of information, authenticate the identity of the sender, and maintain the non-repudiation of the message. Non-repudiation means that the sender cannot deny having sent the message. This is especially helpful in dealing with legal and financial transactions where proof of sending is required.

Let's say you're sending a confidential report to a colleague. You want to make sure that the report reaches your colleague exactly as you sent it and that your colleague knows it's from you. You would use your private key to create a digital signature for the report. Your colleague, upon receiving the report, would use your public key to verify the signature. If the verification is successful, it proves that the report is indeed from you and hasn't been tampered with.

So, in short, digital signatures are like the wax seals on envelopes in ancient times. They ensure the message is genuine and untouched. Just another day in the life of cryptography in cyber threat intelligence!

Public Key Infrastructure

Let's move on to another important concept in cryptography in cyber threat intelligence - the Public Key Infrastructure, or PKI. PKI is like the trusty postman in our digital world. It delivers our confidential letters (or data) securely and ensures they are from the right sender.

PKI is a set of procedures, policies, and technologies that work together to provide a secure electronic environment. It enables users on the unsecured public internet to securely exchange data through the use of a public and a private cryptographic key pair, which is obtained and shared through a trusted authority.

Think of PKI as a digital passport system. Just as your passport verifies your identity when you travel, PKI authenticates the identity of a device, server, or user in the digital world. It's a vital part of cryptography in cyber threat intelligence because it helps protect data from being accessed by unauthorized users.

Now, how does PKI work? Let's break it down. First, you have a pair of keys: one public, which everyone can see, and one private, which is kept secret. These keys are used for encryption and decryption of data. Then, you have a certificate authority (CA), which is like a trusted third party that issues digital certificates. These certificates verify the ownership of a public key. Finally, there's a central directory where these certificates are stored and can be looked up.

So, when you're sending a secure email, for example, you'd use the recipient's public key to encrypt the message. The recipient would then use their private key to decrypt it. If someone else tries to decrypt the message with a different private key, it won't work. This ensures that only the intended recipient can read the message.

And that's PKI in a nutshell. It's like a digital version of a trusted courier service, making sure your sensitive data gets to where it needs to go safely and securely. Remember, in the world of cyber threat intelligence, PKI is your best friend!

Cryptanalysis Methods

Next up on our cryptography in cyber threat intelligence journey, we're going to talk about cryptanalysis methods. Cryptanalysis, in simple terms, is the art of decoding without having the right key. Picture Sherlock Holmes, but instead of solving a murder mystery, he's cracking codes!

Now, let's dive into some of the most common cryptanalysis methods in the cybersecurity landscape:

  1. Ciphertext-only attack: This is like trying to solve a puzzle with only the finished picture. The attacker only has the encrypted message (ciphertext) and tries to figure out the original message (plaintext).
  2. Known-plaintext attack: In this scenario, the attacker has a bit of an edge. They have both the plaintext and its corresponding ciphertext. It's like having a few pieces of the puzzle and trying to figure out the rest.
  3. Chosen-plaintext attack: This is a more advanced method. The attacker can choose arbitrary plaintexts to be encrypted and then study the corresponding ciphertexts. Think of it as having the ability to design a few pieces of the puzzle yourself.
  4. Chosen-ciphertext attack: Here, the attacker can choose different ciphertexts to be decrypted and has access to the resulting plaintext. It's like having a magic pen that can reveal the hidden parts of a puzzle.

These methods are a bit like different strategies in a game of chess. The goal remains the same — to crack the opponent's defenses and capture the king (or in this case, decrypt the ciphertext). The path you choose depends on what pieces you have on the board.

Understanding cryptanalysis methods is important in cryptography for cyber threat intelligence. It helps us know how attackers might try to break our codes, which in turn helps us build stronger, more secure cryptosystems. After all, the best way to beat a code breaker is to think like one!

Application of Cryptography in Cyber Threat Intelligence

Now, let's move to the real-world application of cryptography in cyber threat intelligence. This is where all the concepts we've discussed so far come together and jump into action.

One of the main applications of cryptography in cyber threat intelligence is to protect information. This includes data at rest, such as files on your computer, and data in transit, like emails or messages you send over the internet.

  1. Securing Communications: When you send an email or message online, it travels through several networks before reaching its destination. During this journey, your data can be intercepted by attackers. Cryptography helps us prevent this by encrypting the data before it is sent, and then decrypting it at the receiving end.
  2. Authenticating Users: Cryptography also helps us make sure the people accessing our systems are who they claim to be. This is done through methods like digital signatures or SSL certificates.
  3. Preserving Integrity: Sometimes, it's not enough to keep data confidential. We also need to ensure it hasn't been tampered with during transmission. Cryptography aids in this by using techniques like hash functions, which create a unique fingerprint of the data. If the data is altered, the hash changes, alerting us to the tampering.

Remember, cybersecurity is like a game of cat and mouse. As defenders, we use cryptography to build better, stronger cheese (our encryption systems). But the attackers are always looking for ways to sneak past our defenses and grab a bite. That's why it's so important to stay one step ahead and always be on the lookout for the latest advances in cryptography for cyber threat intelligence.

Future of Cryptography in Cyber Security

So you've made it this far and you're wondering: what's next for cryptography in cyber security? Well, the future is both exciting and challenging.

Firstly, quantum computing is on the horizon. This new technology has the potential to revolutionize many fields, but it also presents a significant challenge to cryptography. Traditional encryption methods may not be secure against a quantum computer's immense processing power. This has led to the development of post-quantum cryptography, which is a whole new field of study working on encryption methods that can withstand quantum attacks.

Secondly, we can expect to see more integration of AI and machine learning in cryptography. These technologies could help automate the process of encrypting and decrypting data, making it more efficient and secure. They could also be used to identify weak points in a system's security and suggest improvements.

  1. Increased Privacy: As our lives become more digital, privacy is becoming increasingly important. Future cryptographic systems will need to provide stronger, more reliable privacy protections.
  2. Greater Accessibility: As more people around the world gain internet access, encryption needs to become more user-friendly. The future will likely see more intuitive, easy-to-use encryption tools.

In conclusion, the future of cryptography in cyber security is bright. It's an exciting field that's constantly evolving to meet new challenges. So whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, there's always something new to learn in the world of cryptography!

If you found this Cryptography Guide for Cyber Threat Intel insightful and want to learn more about the role of cryptography in the digital economy, don't miss the workshop 'Crypto For Creators, Part 1: The Backbone Of The Digital Economy' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will help you understand the significance of cryptography and its applications in today's digital landscape.