—–BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—–

Version: PGP Online
Encryption: Caesar Cipher Mod 26

TESTING, TESTING…. THIS IS AN ENCRYPTED MESSAGE.
IF YOU CAN READ THIS, CONGRATULATIONS!
YOU CAN DECIPHER THE MIGHTY MODULO 26 CAESAR CIPHER
WHICH IF YOU HAD NOT YET GUESSED, IS PLAIN-TEXT
WITH THE SHIFTING OF 26 CHARACTERS.

—–END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—–

Now, what does that have to do with what I am writing? Is this a blog post on cryptography? In short, yes. Cryptography and encryption have rarely seized to bring about feelings of ardor within me. Knowing there may be an underlying message to a seemingly innocuous text, article, picture, blog post, etc. invokes only sheer curiosity from me and what better way to to share my fervor for the subject than through my blog?

Let me begin by bringing those unfamiliar with the subject matter up to par with those of us who do. Cryptography is the use of codes to mask the genuine meaning of a message — where only those knowing where to look or have the key can uncover the original message. This can be accomplished a plethora of modes: shifting of the alphabet, rearranging/replacing letters, utilizing a key-word, and the list goes on and on. These methods are employed by the regular person all the way to colossal corporations for an entire gamut of reasons — typically in the practice of information asymmetry, allowing for one entity to have more beneficial knowledge than another.

By comprehending what cryptography is and what it can and is applied to, one truly begins to recognize its importance in our world and just how powerful of an instrument it is. On a lighter note, cryptography also provides us with entertaining brain teasers; allowing people to attempt cracking quasi-covert messages for amusement (PQJV DAQX RYV AVGV).

Just now we are seeing just how valuable cryptography is in light of the Edward Snowden leaks, elucidating the permeation of mass surveillance into the common public. Many have begun doing independent research on the topic to attempt and secure themselves. Tor, a prominent VPN, has seen a large spike in user count in light of the leaks as more people take privacy into their own hands instead of relying on pliable corporations that bow to any government request to avoid a loss in profits.

Maybe you are telling yourself you are okay with the government seeing into your day-to-day life as you have nothing to hide, but what about corporations that scour your most visited sites, what you typically search for, etc.? Corporations examine a copious amount of information about you and your online habits, then sell it for mere cents to advertising agencies which enables them to deliver you with more individualistic ads that would have an increased chance of being clicked and making a profit. This is a typical trade-off internet users engage, as sites that provide you with free content such as YouTube, Facebook, and Google need someway of profiting of your habits. Not only that, but Google has been acquiring and merging with new corporations on a weekly basis. As they have more sites under their belt, they have more information about you to sell to large marketing agencies. You have to ask yourself, how big is your digital footprint?

Thanks to people like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who share breaches of privacy being committed by large players we have the option of altering this system. Sitting back and doing nothing only serves to empower the abusers of privacy, enabling them to push further boundaries; stepping closer and closer to a nation under total surveillance.

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