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Ayako asks, "Why does cryptology exist?"

Cryptology is "the study of codes, or the art of writing and solving them."

So why does that study exist? The short and simple answer to that question is: Because human beings are capable of dishonesty and treachery.

What do I mean by that? Well, if humans were always fair and honest, we'd never need to encode things. Codes are used to keep secrets from people we don't trust.

Have you ever noticed that whenever you go online to check your bank statements, or make a purchase, or pay your credit card bill, you're on a site with "https" as part of the web address, instead of "http?" That "https" means that your connection to the site is encrypted. And it's a good thing that it is! You are sending personal banking/financial information to the website. If the connection wasn't encrypted, then other people could "eavesdrop" on your conversation and get all kinds of information they shouldn't have: your bank account number, your credit card number, and login information that they could use to access your credit history, or even make purchases using your money.

Of course, if there weren't dishonest people in the world, you wouldn't care if people had your credit card number, because they would never use it. You wouldn't care if they had access to your bank account, because they would never take advantage of the information.

But people can be dishonest, so we need to encrypt things we want to protect.

Codes have also been used in wars. In World War II, the Germans had their Enigma machine, which was used to encode messages. Each day there would be a "key" that could be used to decode the messages, as long as the person receiving the message also had a matching Enigma machine.

The allies worked for months trying to break the enigma code, because they knew that if they could access the messages being sent, they would know the Germans' plans, and be better able to counteract their strikes.

Of course, there are uses for codes that are more benign than these examples. Take this, for example:

"Nvvg nv zg mllm zg gsv hvxivg xofy slfhv gl svok kozm Nzc'h hfikirhv yrigswzb kzigb."

You have no idea what that means, but if you go to our "Backwards Alphabet" code page, you will discover that this secret message was not designed to protect financial information, or steal information, or plan any war tactics.

Thanks for asking!

Surihvvru Sxccohu  (can you decode my name?)

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