Cryptography is an essential act of hiding information in transit to ensure that only the receiver can view it. IT experts achieve this by encoding information before sending out and decoding it on the receiver’s end. Using an algorithm, IT experts can encrypt information using either symmetric or asymmetric encryption. However, like any other computer system, attackers can launch attacks on cryptosystems.
Cybercriminals can launch active or passive attacks on cryptographic information. As the name suggests, active attacks can alter or modify the system files, making them harmful compared to passive attacks, which involve snooping or eavesdropping on data. That said, programmers should understand the various types of cryptographic attacks to minimize the risks. They include;
- Bruteforce Attacks
Bruteforce is a simple and straightforward cryptography attack that attempts all the possible passwords or keys to access files with information. Cybercriminals launch such attacks using massive processing powers that methodologically guess the passwords that secure cryptographic information.
Based on this, the time taken to discover the password in such attacks depends on the length of the key. Therefore, Bruteforce attacks can only be successful if allowed enough time. Any additional length in the key doubles the time required to successfully launch the Bruteforce attack since the number of potential combinations doubles.
- Replay Cryptography Attack
Replay attacks are used against cryptographic algorithms without temporal protections. In this situation, cybercriminals intercept encrypted messages between two individuals, request for authentication, and replay the captured message to start a new session. Replay attacks can best be avoided using timestamps in communication and setting expiry periods on all messages.
- Man in the Middle Attack
As the name suggests, Man in the Middle Attack occurs when the cybercriminal sits between communicating parties, intercepting all their communication, including how the cryptographic session was set up. The hacker infiltrates the session by responding to the initialization request and establishes a secure session with the originator of the communication.
The malicious party then initiates a second secure session with the original recipient using different keys posing as the originator. The individual then sits between the communication, reading all the traffic or information relayed by the originator to the intended recipient.
- Implementation Attack
Implementation attacks seek to exploit weaknesses or vulnerabilities during the implementation of cryptography systems. Such attacks solely focus on software code, errors, and other flaws within the logic implementation of the encryption system.
- Statistical Attack
These attacks capitalize on statistical weaknesses in a cryptography system, such as the inability to generate random numbers and floating-point flaws. Statistical attacks target vulnerabilities in the operating systems or hardware hosting the functional cryptography tool.
- Frequency Analysis and Ciphertext Only Attack
With the Ciphertext only attack, the cybercriminal knows the ciphertext used in various communications encrypted using a similar encryption algorithm. However, the attacker’s challenge is figuring out the key used to decrypt the messages. Therefore, they use a simple technique, frequency analysis, which is counting the times every letter appears in the ciphertext to decrypt the information.
Cybercriminals employ several variations and techniques to accomplish frequency analysis. For instance, knowing that the letters T, O, N, E, and A, are common in English words, they can test several hypotheses. Compared to other cryptography attacks, Ciphertext only attacks are the easiest to commit, especially if the malicious persons capture the ciphertext. However, it is quite challenging to implement in data with advanced encryption.
- Chosen Ciphertext Attack
In this attack, hackers identify a portion or parts of the decrypted ciphertext and compare it with the plaintext in a bid to figure out the encryption key. Evidently, this is quite challenging.
- Known Plaintext
Unlike Ciphertext only attacks, cybercriminals launching a Known Plaintext attack have a copy of the already encrypted message and the plaintext data used in generating the ciphertext. With such knowledge, the attacker can break weak encryption codes and launch new attacks.
- Chosen Plaintext Attack
The chosen-plaintext attack is quite similar to known-plaintext attacks; however, in this attack, the cybercriminal gambles by choosing a plaintext to match the generated ciphertext. He can then analyze both words to figure out the key and learn more about the entire encryption process, enabling him to decrypt other messages.
Evidently, the cryptography attack landscape revolves around a few principles of cybersecurity. Therefore, the best way to avoid cryptography attacks is by using advanced encryption formulas. You can also opt for an asymmetrical encryption algorithm, which uses different keys to encrypt and decrypt the message. This is better than symmetric encryption, which uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt the message.
Fortunately, learning cryptography is quite simple. Unlike other professions, you don’t necessarily need a degree to master cryptography. You can simply join a coding Bootcamp, online training courses, or learn by yourself. If you happen to be a veteran, you may be eligible to attain training for free.