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Brief History of Encryption [InfoGraphic]

The use of ciphers (encryption) goes back to ancient Egyptian times, although these non-standard hieroglyphs have given rise to some controversy amongst historians leading to a general understanding that they were probably not serious attempts to conceal secret messages. However the Greeks and Spartans certainly made use of encryption for certain communications to and from their respective armies.

Recently we have all become much more aware of the concept of encryption partly due to movies such as Enigma and The Imitation Game, both based on the code breaking exploits by the British during World War II. Where a team lead by the brilliant Alan Turing managed to decipher German codes produced by their Enigma encoding machine. This breaking of the German codes is credited with shortening the war by several months and consequently the saving of thousands of lives.

Modern life has dictated that we use encryption far more in our everyday lives. We may not be aware of it but in using the internet for email, online transactions and the like the software that we use will almost certainly be incorporating encryption routines to one degree or another.

The ubiquitous use of email has led us into a false sense of security. We often send emails containing quite sensitive information (bank details for example) without stopping to think that it is akin to sending such information on a postcard through the post! By encrypting email we immediately mitigate that risk. Like wise by employing file encryption we can restrict access to stored information to just those that have a right to gain such access.

We have also seen the rise in use of online services such as Dropbox and Egress Secure Workspace to facilitate large file transfers, the security over files transferred in this way would be greatly increased by the use of encryption to once again restrict unauthorised access to these files that are stored let’s face it on a public server.

Last year 2014, was designated the “Year of Encryption” by companies operating in the IT Security arena, due to the increased use of software designed to deliver encryption in a usable format. Email encryption software provider Egress Software Technologies have produced a very interesting infographic charting the use of encryption over the years, which we are happy to publish here.
History of Encryption