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Cryptography software is a type of computer program that is generally used to encode information. This can enable the safe transfer of communication between parties, or allow valuable information to be hidden. Cryptography software has become much more common since the emergence of the Internet. Some of its specific applications include encoding ATM and credit card numbers, disguising e-mail passwords, and maintaining overall network security. The term cryptography sometimes refers to the deciphering of information, as opposed to its encoding.
In order to produce the best encryptions possible, knowledge from four different fields are typically incorporated in cryptography software: mathematics, statistics, computer science, and engineering. This software generally employs a type of cipher, which is an algorithm used to encode information. Ciphers are considered to be more complicated than codes, and the two are distinguished by expert cryptographers. This is because codes use a greater codebook, which is then referred to when interpreting a message. In contrast, the cipher algorithm is more varied and generates more complex patterns of encoding.
For personal computer users, cryptography software can perform a lot of different tasks. For example, e-mail encryption programs can allow a person to send messages with encrypted content to other e-mail users. All that is required is the common key, or algorithm, to decipher these messages, which is usually a part of the cryptography software.
Computer hackers often employ cryptography software to gain access to other computers. For example, some programs can uncover passwords to various networks. Hackers can also use software, such as file shredders, to access a computer and then destroy all the files in it, by changing the code and making it impossible to recover.
A lot of cryptography software is available for purchase or free download. The programs can vary in terms of the quality of the algorithm and the encoding they use. Some software may be specifically designed for decoding, or decrypting, information.
There are also types of cryptography software called virtual keyboards. This software prevents key logging, which is a program that keeps track of common keystrokes used in the typing of passwords and credit card numbers. The virtual keyboard, as the name implies, sets up a 'fake' keyboard that alters the keystrokes entered into it, so that a key logger will receive different information than the actual password entered.
Cryptography software is often regulated by national laws. For example, some countries do not allow it to be exported or imported. In some cases, a permit may be required to ship the software internationally.