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Cryptography Decrypted [Paperback]

by H. X. Mel, Doris M. Baker
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 31, 2000 0201616475 978-0201616477 1
Cryptography is at the heart of computer security: without it, secure e-commerce and Internet communications would be impossible. Decision-makers and sophisticated computer users need to understand cryptography -- but most explanations are highly mathematical and technical. Cryptography Decrypted explains cryptography in "plain English" -- and is authoritative and thorough enough to address the needs of professionals. It explains the processes step-by-step, with extensive visuals. The authors present the elements of cryptography systems; public key infrastructure (PKI); and the IPSec standard for virtual private network security; then review real-world systems and their applications. They show how real-world systems are attacked, and how to protect them; introduce essential cryptographic terms; and present the fascinating history of cryptography through sidebars highlighting its important events, people, and breakthroughs. For every decision-maker and computer user who needs to understand cryptography, this book is also ideal for security pros who need to educate management about cryptography.

Frequently Bought Together

Cryptography Decrypted + The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography + Cryptanalysis: A Study of Ciphers and Their Solution
Price for all three: $58.18

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Fundamental security concepts like cryptography and digital signatures are becoming as much a part of our everyday lives as megabytes and the Internet. Anyone working with computer security--security professionals, network administrators, IT managers, CEOs, and CIOs--need to have a comfortable understanding of the cryptographic concepts in this book.

Cryptography Decrypted shows you how to safeguard digital possessions. It is a clear, comprehensible, and practical guide to the essentials of computer cryptography, from Caesar's Cipher through modern-day public key. Cryptographic capabilities like detecting imposters and stopping eavesdropping are thoroughly illustrated with easy-to-understand analogies, visuals, and historical sidebars.

You need little or no background in cryptography to read Cryptography Decrypted. Nor does it require technical or mathematical expertise. But for those with some understanding of the subject, this book is comprehensive enough to solidify knowledge of computer cryptography and challenge those who wish to explore the high-level math appendix.

Divided into four parts, the book explains secret keys and secret key methods like DES, public and private keys, and public key methods like RSA; how keys are distributed through digital certificates; and three real-world systems. Numerous graphics illustrate and clarify common cryptographic terminology throughout.

You will find coverage of such specific topics as:
  • Secret key and secret key exchanges
  • Public and private keys
  • Digital signatures
  • Digital certificates, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), and PGP
  • Hashes and message digests
  • Secure e-mail, secure socket layer (SSL), and Internet Protocol Security (IPsec)
  • Protecting keys
  • Cryptographic attacks
  • Authentication, confidentiality, integrity, and nonrepudiation

"Even after ten years working in the field of information protection for a major electronics manufacturing company, I learned a lot from this book. I think you will too."

--From the Foreword by John Kinyon


About the Author

H.X. Mel consults and develops computer systems for organizations such as Lucent, Xerox, MIT, the U.S. Government, Motorola, Goldman Sachs, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Doris Baker is a freelance technical writer and editor.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (December 31, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201616475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201616477
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best introductory book bar none December 17, 2001
This book clearly explains the foundation of cryptography, numbers, and the techniques that have emerged to provide modern security technologies. The book starts with Part I, that sets the context by introducing terms and the basics, including ciphers, data encryption standard (DES) and secret keys. The authors did a remarkable job by making complex concepts easy to understand. The next two parts go into more detail about public keys and digital certificates. While these are relatively simple to learn on the surface, the details have always eluded me until I read this book because more papers and books on the subject get too deep into details too fast and assume knowledge of advanced math on the part of the reader. Not so this book - the authors make it easy through clear writing, illustrations that illuminate the textual descriptions and a knack for explaining the complex in simple and easily digestible chunks.
I especially liked Part IV, which covers secure electronic commerce because it covered the full spectrum of technologies and the information is immediately useful to all IT and security professionals. Like in the first three parts of this book I came away with a complete understanding of how everything works.
This book epitomizes clear writing. Moreover, it is simply amazing how much knowledge can be relatively painlessly gained from reading this book. Although I am sure the authors intended to make the inner workings of cryptography accessible to non-security professionals (which they unquestionably accomplished), they also set a standard of excellence in technical writing by producing a book that is, in my opinion, near perfect in its ability to seamlessly use lively prose and well thought out illustrations to convey highly technical information. If you need to learn cryptography but are challenged by the math and the impenetratable writing of other books on the subject, start with this one.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I am a senior engineer for managed network security operations. I administer systems which use cryptographic tools and processes (SSH, IPSec VPNs, etc.) and have seen cryptography hinder my network-based intrusion detection activities. I read this book to gain basic familiarity with the nuts and bolts of cryptography. I wanted a lively text which addressed modern issues, since computer books can be quickly overtaken by technological advances. This book delivers at all levels and belongs on every computer security professional's bookshelf.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was energetic, clear, well-organized, fully illustrated, and comprehensive. I believe it's THE book to read if you want an introduction to one of the major enablers of modern computing. Furthermore, because the book's goal is to explain the foundations of both secret and public key cryptography, it should stay relevant for many years.
"Cryptography Decrypted" does not spare any effort to ensure the reader understands the subject. Concepts are clarified and reinforced through text and diagrams on nearly every page. The authors know many readers are not attracted to mathematics, so they move the "heavy lifting" to an appendix. Even then, for readers willing to apply a little effort, the appendix is understandable and enlightening. At every stage of writing this book, the authors must have remembered to keep the non-cryptographer reader in mind. Kudos to their editors for keeping them on track!
The only disappointment was the book's failure to mention the Secure Shell (SSH). Because the authors believed it important to discusses popular implementations of cryptography (IPSec, SSL, PGP), I had hoped that SSH would be included.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The primary audience for this book is anyone who has to quickly get up-to-speed in security infrastructure and cryptology. If you are working in health care and are overwhelmed with the technical requirements imposed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), then you are going to love this book. If you are involved in e-commerce you will definitely find this book essential reading and the key to understanding the underpinnings of web and e-commerce security.
There is another audience for this book: technical writers. The authors set the highest standards in document design, clear writing and integration of prose and illustration. They have managed to explain a complex, difficult subject easy to understand.
Part I of the book lays the foundation by explaining the basics: defining terms, the evolution of ciphers and how they worked, and the fundamentals of the data encryption standard (DES) and secret keys. I found this part of the book to be fascinating because the authors used easy-to-follow examples that were augmented by visual depictions of how everything works. For example, a quick explanation of Polybius square numbers and how to transpose them to diffuse a cipher was not only something completely new to me, but was something I was able to thoroughly understand after reading less than three pages of this book! I am sure that a professional cryptographer would find this material basic. I found it empowering because I began to see a larger picture of this obscure science unfold while learning some interesting numerical manipulation techniques. For the first time I really understood this stuff to the degree that I could explain it to non-technical people. The authors also used historical anecdotes to make the subject interesting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good But Somewhat Rough
* The title of H.X. Mel and Doris Baker's CRYPTOGRAPHY DECRYPTED is a bit misleading, implying that this is a book on general cryptography. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Greg Goebel
4.0 out of 5 stars Crypto-Decrypt Book
Books where used for a college course to help students understand the hidden messages behind code and to decypher code.
Published on August 27, 2011 by NY'r
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to foundations of cryptogrpahy
A very thorough introduction to crytopgraphy. Illustrations very helpful in explaining the concepts. Read more
Published on March 22, 2010 by David M. Alexander
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for beginners for sure
This book lays out the concept very well and book is fun to read. I really loved reading the book. The underline mathematics is explained with enough detail for one to appreciate... Read more
Published on October 3, 2009 by Alok
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Supreme!
Occasionally, in this crummy, heartless world, someone actually gives a damn. And when they give a damn, great things happen. This book is one example of that.

H.X. Read more
Published on June 18, 2009 by R. Gonzalez
5.0 out of 5 stars Best explanation of public key algorithm
It's been very difficult for me to understand having a key that encrypts something but can't decrypt it. The math and concepts behind RSA are far from easy. Read more
Published on May 29, 2008 by Max Rottersman
5.0 out of 5 stars quick reference on PKI
This book is just what I needed - a quick tutorial on PKI. It is easy to read and the examples are straight forward. Read more
Published on May 23, 2007 by WFW
5.0 out of 5 stars One Great Book
Being a technical book about a heavy topic I was pleasantly surprised that this book was pretty much "unputdownable". Read more
Published on March 25, 2007 by sp
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book explaining all the secret s of secure communication
Cryptography Decrypted is an easy to read and fun book that explains how cryptography has evolved from Caesar's time to now. Read more
Published on March 3, 2006 by John E. Van Kirk
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply THE BEST!!!
This book is phenomenal! I skimmed through countless books on cryptography before I settled on this one. Read more
Published on January 31, 2006 by Arcwin
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