Imagine that you’ve just joined a new gaming platform that all of your friends have been on for weeks. After coming up with a fun and quirky user name, you are prompted to create a password with very specific requirements. It must have at least eight characters, both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and a special character. Why does your password have to contain all of these items to be considered strong?

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For thousands of years, people have used encryption to keep secret information safe from outsiders and protect themselves from potential threats. The study and use of encryption, known as cryptography, has been used to relay strategies to allies during wars, to pass secret information between government officials, and to keep personal information private. With the regular use of computers and the internet, encryption has become something that protects us on a daily basis. Entering a password, reading an email, or even unlocking a cell phone screen all involve some form of cryptography. As technology evolves, cryptography practices continue to keep vital information safe and to protect us from potential threats.

Internet security has become an important part of our daily lives, with so much of what we do revolving around being connected online. Hanging out with friends on social media, keeping up with viral trends, and watching our favorite content creators on YouTube all use encryption in some form. Websites secure our personal data through encryption, and there are also many other steps we can take to remain secure online. Only visiting trusted websites can help to protect us from phishing scams, and choosing not to post personal information to social media can increase our security on the internet as well. Evaluating content and researching others’ experiences with apps before using them can help to prevent data from being stolen. By thinking critically and understanding how encryption works, we can remain safe while online.

There are many tools we can use to strengthen our understanding of cryptography and learn how to write in secret code. A cipher wheel can be used to create your own code and write secret messages to your friends. This tool consists of two circles that move independently from one another; lining up letters, you can create codes that only someone who knows or figures out the key can decipher. Another variation of the cipher wheel involves using symbols in place of letters on one of the circles and can be more challenging to decode. Morse code is another way to pass along information securely, with each letter of the alphabet being represented by a pattern of dots and dashes. Online versions of the cipher wheel and websites explaining Morse code can be fun tools to help us understand cryptography.

Cryptography and coding go hand in hand. There are many different coding languages that can be used to create and run computer software, applications, websites, games, and databases. Programming involves understanding the specific code needed for the purpose you have in mind. There are many websites dedicated to teaching different types of code for different purposes, and often, free learning tools are available. Understanding how to work out and write different types of code can lead to a career in computer programming or to the development of the next big app. Do you have a great idea for a new app or game? Or do you enjoy designing websites for your friends and family? There are many different types of codes that people use to do these sorts of things. Everything from a link to sharing your favorite YouTube video with a friend to the graphics displayed on your favorite video game began with some type of coding.

What is Cryptography?

Internet Security and Safety

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