What is Cryptography?

Contributor, Benzinga

In this digital era, many of us benefit from encryption multiple times a day without ever realizing it. When you visit a secured website such as your bank’s website or an online retailer, cryptography is used to keep your private information protected. Used to timestamp electronic documents and to transfer money electronically, cryptography is also one of the key elements in blockchain technology.

get started securely through Webull’s website
Best For
Low Minimums
N/A
1 Minute Review

Webull, founded in 2017, is a mobile app-based brokerage that features commission-free stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trading. It’s regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Webull offers active traders technical indicators, economic calendars, ratings from research agencies, margin trading and short-selling. Webull’s trading platform is designed for intermediate and experienced traders, although beginning traders can also benefit.

Webull is widely considered one of the best Robinhood alternatives.

Best For
  • Active traders
  • Intermediate traders
Pros
  • No charges to open and maintain an account
  • No account maintenance fees or software platform fees
  • Intuitive trading platform with technical and fundamental analysis tools
Cons
  • Only offers 14 coins
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Staking Crypto + Earning Rewards
N/A
1 Minute Review

Founded in 2015, Exodus is a multiasset software wallet that removes the geek requirement and keeps design a priority to make cryptocurrency and digital assets easy for everyone. Available for desktop and mobile, Exodus allows users to secure, manage and exchange cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and more across an industry-leading 10,000-plus asset pairs from a beautiful, easy-to-use wallet. The noncustodial functionality is encrypted locally on users’ own devices, ensuring privacy, security and complete control over their wealth. Exodus is on a mission to empower half the world to exit the traditional finance system by 2030.

Best For
  • Newcomers to the cryptocurrency world
  • Ease of use
  • Trezor integration
Pros
  • Free
  • Huge selection of cryptocurrencies
  • Excellent 24/7 customer support
  • No personal info needed
Cons
  • FTX app not available on the mobile app
get started securely through SoFi’s website
Best For
Beginners
N/A
1 Minute Review

SoFi takes a modern approach to personal finance. It recently created buzz with the release of SoFi Crypto, a way to trade cryptocurrency on the app. The platform allows investors to familiarize themselves with crypto. It offers a high level of security, great customer support and an intuitive interface. However, it does have shortcomings with the number of cryptos offered and geographic restrictions.

Best For
  • Beginners
  • Centralization of your money
Pros
  • Charges low or no fees for some functions within the interface.
  • Relies on Coinbase, a very secure platform, to process transactions.
  • Presents a low barrier of entry — you only need $10 to start trading.
Cons
  • Currently only offers 28 coins.
get started securely through eToro’s website
Disclosure: eToro USA LLC; Investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal.
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Copy Trading
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1 Minute Review

eToro, headquartered in Cyprus, England and Israel, has provided forex products and other CFD derivatives to retail clients since 2007. A major eToro plus is its social trading operations, including OpenBook, which allows new clients to copy trade the platform’s best performers. Its social trading features are top notch, but eToro loses points for its lack of tradable currency pairs and underwhelming research and customer service features

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  • U.S. based cryptocurrency traders
  • Investors looking to CopyTrade other traders
  • Simple user interface
Pros
  • Several major cryptocurrencies and altcoins
  • Expansive network of social trading features
  • Large client base for new traders to imitate
Cons
  • Only 29 coins available
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New Investors
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1 Minute Review

Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian that offers investors access to over 100 coins and tokens. Founded in the US, Gemini is expanding globally, in particular into Europe and Asia. Offerings include both major cryptocurrency projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and smaller altcoins like Orchid and 0x.

Gemini is 1 of the only brokers with multiple platform options based on skill level. New investors will love the streamlined interface of Gemini’s mobile and web apps, while advanced investors might appreciate all the tools that come with ActiveTrader. 

In addition to a host of platform choices, Gemini users also have access to insured hot wallets to store tokens without worrying about digital asset theft. Learn more about what Gemini can do for you in our review.

Best For
  • New investors looking for a simple mobile and web app
  • Day traders looking to use technical analysis tools
  • Users looking for a 1-stop-shop to buy, sell and store all of their cryptos
Pros
  • Easy and quick signups — can get started in as little as a 5 minutes
  • Multitude of platforms to accommodate traders of all skill levels
  • Hot wallets include insurance to protect your from theft and hacking attempts
Cons
  • Charges both a commission and a convenience fee for users buying and selling through the desktop or mobile app
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Best For
Coinbase Learn
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1 Minute Review

Coinbase is one of the Internet’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms. From Bitcoin to Litecoin or Basic Attention Token to Chainlink, Coinbase makes it exceptionally simple to buy and sell major cryptocurrency pairs. 

You can even earn cryptocurrency rewards through Coinbase’s unique Coinbase Earn feature. More advanced traders will love the Coinbase Pro platform, which offers more order types and enhanced functionality.

Though Coinbase doesn’t offer the most affordable pricing or the lowest fees, its simple platform is easy enough for complete beginners to master in as little as a single trade.

Best For
  • New cryptocurrency traders
  • Cryptocurrency traders interested in major pairs
  • Cryptocurrency traders interested in a simple platform
Pros
  • Simple platform is easy to operate
  • Comprehensive mobile app mirrors desktop functionality
  • Coinbase Earn feature rewards you with crypto for learning about available coins
Cons
  • Higher fees than competitors

Check out a brief history of cryptography below.

From Evolution to The Revolution of the Encryption World

by SafeNet.

Using Cryptography

Even though it may be easy to solve a simple algorithm that uses letters, numbers and even symbols, modern cryptography will often require the help of complex mathematical functions. Cryptography is nothing new and it has been around since ancient times.

The invention of the computer led to more advancements in cryptography and more uses for encryption in the modern world.. There are two cryptography techniques used in the process of encrypting and decrypting data:

1. Symmetric cryptography

Also known as conventional cryptography, symmetric cryptography requires the sender and the receiver of confidential information to share a key. The key is the item of private information that is used to both encrypt and decrypt data.

It is important that the process the two individuals use to agree upon a key is a secure network or medium to guarantee that their secret key remains a secret to all others. Until the two parties agree upon the key, they have no way to share their information with one another in private.

2. Asymmetric cryptography

Also known as public key encryption, asymmetric cryptography helps solve the key exchange issue by using two keys instead of one. Either key may be used to encrypt data, and the encrypted data can only be decrypted by using the other key.

Common Methods

There are several different methods of encryption, and the most commonly used are shared secret key encryption and public key encryption.

1. Shared secret key encryption

In terms of cryptography, a shared secret key encryption is a key that only a select group of people know. It can include anything from passwords to PINs and pass phrases.

A good example of a shared secret key encryption is the password for company software that is used by multiple employees or a door PIN that allows a group of people to have access to a building.

2. Public key encryption

Public key encryption is a system that uses two keys that are mathematically related, but not necessarily identical. There is a public and a private key. Each key performs its own unique function. The public key is used to encrypt, and the private key is used to decrypt.

This method is often used in various business applications, especially with digital signatures. When a document or form is signed digitally using the individual’s private key, it can be verified by the same individual’s public key.

Understanding Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology was invented by a group of people known as Satoshi Nakamoto. This ingenious new technology is changing the way that we share digital information online. But what is blockchain technology and how does it connect with cryptography? First, make sure you completely understand blockchain. Check out the video below by the Institute for the Future.

Blockchains allow digital information to be shared on the web, but not copied. It was originally developed for use with the digital currency, Bitcoin. However, Satoshi Nakaoto found a brand-new use for it by protecting shared documents.

For example, imagine an Excel spreadsheet has been duplicated many times across various computers in your office network. But what if the network was capable of regularly updating this spreadsheet?

That is a simple explanation of what blockchain technology is. The information on the blockchain is saved and continuously updated on a shared database. This can be very beneficial because the data isn’t saved in one single location and it is easy for those who need access to it to obtain it. There is no central version of the data for a hacker to steal or change.

Yet at the same time, the data is accessible to anyone online.

Final Thoughts

Modern cryptography can help all types of professionals keep personal and confidential information secure. It can also be beneficial to keeping cryptocurrency secure. Bitcoin uses blockchain technology to ensure that cryptocurrency cannot be copied or stolen. Blockchain technology allows two individuals to make a transaction directly with one another with no additional fees.

Once the cryptocurrency data is verified, it becomes permanent and impossible to edit by hackers. Cryptography can ultimately be thanked for changing the way we share information online, as well as doing its part to make the internet a safer place to be.

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