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Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future by Chris Bishop, John MacCormick

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4

Public Key Cryptography: Sending Secrets on a Postcard

Who knows those most secret things of me that are hidden from the world?

—BOB DYLAN, Covenant Woman

Humans love to gossip, and they love secrets. And since the goal of cryptography is to communicate secrets, we are all natural cryptographers. But humans can communicate secretly more easily than computers. If you want to tell a secret to your friend, you can just whisper in your friend's ear. It's not so easy for computers to do that. There's no way for one computer to “whisper” a credit card number to another computer. If the computers are connected by the internet, they have no control over where that credit card number goes, and which other computers get to find it out. In this chapter ...

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