Cryptography Pros & Cons: A Digital Security Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. What is Cryptography?
  2. How does Cryptography Work?
  3. Types of Cryptography
  4. Pros of Cryptography
  5. Cons of Cryptography
  6. How to Select the Right Cryptography Method
  7. Real-World Applications of Cryptography
  8. Future of Cryptography

Imagine having a secret code that only you and your best friend can understand. That's kinda how cryptography works in the world of digital security. With the increasing dependence on digital platforms for everything from chatting with friends to managing money, the importance of secure communication has skyrocketed. In this blog, we'll explore the pros and cons of cryptography in digital security, giving you a clearer understanding of this complex, yet fascinating, field.

What is Cryptography?

Cryptography is like the 'secret handshake' of the digital world. It's a method of disguising and revealing (or encrypting and decrypting) information through complex mathematical algorithms. Simply put, it transforms data into a format that only those who have the 'secret key' can read. It's like when you and your friend created a secret language that only the two of you could understand. But in this case, we're talking about digital information.

There are three key elements in cryptography:

  • Encryption: This is the process of changing plain text into something unreadable—kind of like scrambling a message.
  • Decryption: This is the reverse of encryption. It's about unscrambling the message so you can read it again.
  • Key: This is like the secret decoder ring in your favorite childhood spy book. It's a piece of information that determines the output of the encryption and decryption.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what cryptography is, let's move forward and discuss the pros and cons of cryptography in digital security. It's not all secret messages and decoder rings—there are benefits and drawbacks we need to consider.

How does Cryptography Work?

Picture this: you've written a secret note to your friend and you don't want anyone else to read it. How do you make sure it stays secret? You could use a code, right? Cryptography works in a similar manner, but with a high-tech twist. Let's dive into the nitty-gritty of it.

When you send information over the Internet, it doesn't go straight from your computer to its destination. Instead, it hops from one computer to another, like a frog hopping on lily pads. At any of these stops, someone could peek at your information if it's not protected. Cryptography helps prevent this by turning your information into a garbled mess that only the intended recipient can make sense of.

Here's a simple breakdown:

  1. First off, the information, or 'plain text', is transformed into 'cipher text'—an unreadable jumble of characters—through a process called encryption.
  2. Then, this cipher text is sent to the recipient over the Internet.
  3. Finally, the recipient uses a 'key' to decrypt the cipher text, turning it back into readable information.

Consider it as an advanced digital game of 'pass the secret message', where the code is so complex that only the person with the correct decoder (or key) can understand the message. And voilà! That is how cryptography works in a nutshell.

However, like anything else, it's not all peaches and cream. Up next, we'll discuss the pros and cons of cryptography in digital security. It's always a good idea to know both sides of the coin, wouldn't you agree?

Types of Cryptography

Just as there are different types of ice cream flavors to suit different tastes, there are also different types of cryptography to cater to different needs. Let's have a look at the three major types, shall we?

1. Symmetric Cryptography: Think of symmetric cryptography like a secret handshake; it uses the same key for both encryption and decryption. Imagine you and your friend have a secret handshake that only you two know. That's how symmetric cryptography works - the same key is used to scramble and unscramble the message.

2. Asymmetric Cryptography: This uses two keys instead of one. One key is used to encrypt the message, and the other to decrypt it. It's like sending a locked box to your friend and sending the key through a different route. Even if someone intercepts the box, they can't open it without the key.

3. Hash Functions: These are a bit different. Instead of turning information into cipher text, they turn it into a string of characters called a hash. Even a small change in the original information will result in a completely different hash, making it ideal for verifying the integrity of data.

Each type of cryptography has its own pros and cons in digital security and is used in different scenarios. The trick lies in figuring out which one to use when. But don't worry, we'll get to that later. First, let's explore the benefits and drawbacks of cryptography in general, shall we?

Pros of Cryptography

Now that we've learned about the different types of cryptography, let's talk about the good stuff. What makes cryptography a top pick for securing digital information? Let's look at the pros of cryptography in digital security:

1. Keeps Your Secrets, Well, Secret: The first and most obvious benefit is that cryptography makes your data unreadable to anyone without the right key. It's like speaking in a secret language that only you and your friend understand.

2. Verifies Authenticity: Ever received a letter with a seal? Cryptography works similarly in the digital world. It can confirm that a message hasn't been altered and really is from who it claims to be from.

3. Protects Against Cyber Threats: Cryptography is like an all-weather jacket for your data, protecting it from the stormy weather of cyber threats. It can help safeguard your information from hackers, malware, and other digital nasties.

4. Preserves Privacy: In a world where privacy is becoming harder to maintain, cryptography gives you a tool to keep your personal information personal.

So, cryptography sounds great, right? It's like a digital superhero, swooping in to keep our information safe. But remember, even superheroes have their weaknesses. So, what could possibly go wrong? Let's find out in the next section.

Cons of Cryptography

Alright, let's flip the coin and look at the other side. Here are some cons of cryptography in digital security that you should be aware of:

1. Complexity: Cryptography is not exactly a walk in the park. It involves complex math and algorithms. So, if you're not a fan of either, you might find it a bit tough.

2. Key Management: Imagine having a secret language but forgetting the key to it. That's what can happen if you lose your cryptographic keys. And trust me, it's not fun!

3. Can Slow Things Down: Encrypting and decrypting data takes time. So, if you're in a hurry, cryptography might seem like a speed bump on your digital highway.

4. Costs: Good things often come with a price tag, and cryptography is no exception. Implementing cryptographic systems can be expensive, especially for small businesses.

So, there you have it, the pros and cons of cryptography in digital security. Despite its drawbacks, cryptography remains a powerful tool in our digital security toolbox. But like any tool, we need to know how to use it correctly. So, let's move on to how to select the right cryptography method.

How to Select the Right Cryptography Method

Now that we've talked about the pros and cons of cryptography in digital security, you might be wondering how to pick the best method for you. Don't worry, I've got your back. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Your Needs: The first step is to understand what you need. Are you looking for a top-level security for your business data? Or, do you want to keep your personal emails private? Different needs call for different cryptographic methods.

2. The Type of Data: Your choice also depends on the type of data you're dealing with. Texts, images, and videos each require different approaches to cryptography.

3. Resources: Remember the cost factor we talked about earlier? You'll need to consider your budget and the technical skills of your team. A highly secure method might be out of reach if it's too expensive or complex.

4. Compatibility: Lastly, your chosen cryptographic method should be compatible with your existing systems. If it's not, you might have to spend extra time and effort to make it work.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cryptography. It's all about finding what works best for you. So, take your time, do your research, and make an informed decision.

Real-World Applications of Cryptography

Now that we've covered the basics and the pros and cons of cryptography in digital security, it's time to explore some real-world applications. You might be surprised to learn that cryptography is everywhere!

1. E-commerce: Ever bought something online? If so, you've used cryptography. Websites use it to protect your credit card information and other personal data. It's what makes online shopping safe and secure.

2. Emails: If you've ever sent an email, chances are it was encrypted. Why? To keep your messages private. It's like having a secret code that only you and the recipient know.

3. Digital Signatures: Cryptography is also used to verify digital signatures. This is important in legal documents, where it's critical to confirm the identity of the signer.

4. Passwords: Those passwords you use every day? Yep, they're encrypted too. This is why, when you forget your password, websites usually reset it instead of telling you what it was.

5. Banking: Online banking is another area where cryptography is used. It ensures your transactions are secure and your account details remain private.

These examples just scratch the surface of how cryptography impacts our daily lives. It's a key player in our digital world, and its importance can't be overstated.

Future of Cryptography

So, what does the future hold for cryptography, especially considering its pros and cons in digital security? Well, as the online world continues to grow, so too will the need for improved cryptographic methods.

1. Quantum Computing: One of the biggest developments on the horizon is quantum computing. This new technology could potentially crack existing cryptographic codes. However, it could also lead to the creation of quantum-resistant algorithms, providing a new level of digital security.

2. Artificial Intelligence: AI is also set to play a significant role. It could help automate the creation and testing of new cryptographic methods. This would speed up the development process and help us stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

3. Expanded Use: As more devices connect to the internet (think smart homes, self-driving cars), the need for cryptography will only increase. It's going to play a crucial role in securing our increasingly connected world.

4. Privacy Enhancements: With privacy concerns on the rise, we're likely to see advancements in cryptography focused on protecting personal data. This includes techniques like homomorphic encryption, which allows computations on encrypted data.

Cryptography's future is, without doubt, bright and filled with exciting advancements. One thing's for sure—cryptography will continue to be an integral part of our digital security, despite its pros and cons. So, stay tuned for what's to come because cryptography is not going anywhere!

If you're eager to learn more about the digital security landscape, we recommend checking out the workshop 'Crypto For Creators, Part 1: The Backbone Of The Digital Economy' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will provide you with an in-depth understanding of cryptography and its role in securing today's digital world. Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your knowledge and stay ahead of the curve in digital security.