Cryptography and security are games of tradeoffs, and there is no such thing as a perfect solution to either. As long as there is an advantage to be gained from breaking a scheme, there will be people pushing the limits looking for cracks. The delicate, silent arms race of information hurdles on behind the scenes. With enough time and advances in computing techniques, every cryptography scheme can be cracked.

The core part that a cryptographic scheme relies on is its algorithm, the crux of which is the difficulty to carry out an operation in reverse without having the key. For a long time, the task that was generally accepted as time-intensive enough to secure information was the prime factorization of large numbers. More specifically, taking two large primes and multiplying them into a large number makes an output that is difficult to factor without having one of the two large numbers. This is a gross simplification of RSA and public key cryptography in general, but it leads to my point: the best cryptography is the one that *isn’t broken yet*. The need to make ever more computationally intensive protections led to Elliptic Curve Cryptography- which allows shorter for equal protection. It relies on the properties of a set of functions called Elliptic Curves to make cracking the encryption another step above RSA. Cycle after cycle we see that just as current cryptography is cracked, new schemes are developed to stay just out of reach.

With new technologies like quantum computing on the horizon, the urgency for more secure schemes evolves every day. The growing quantity of “secure” extremely sensitive user data on the internet is being encrypted with today’s standards, but in ten years from now, it might be possible to brute-force the encryption keys with a cell phone. It’s an important fact to remember that security is a rapidly evolving, active field with no forgiveness and long memory. Designing adaptable, flexible systems that can leap through the new security hoops that could pop up tomorrow is a key characteristic that is becoming more significant with every passing day.

Sources

https://people.csail.mit.edu/rivest/Rsapaper.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5766008/

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