Welcome to the Interconnect-IT weblog. In this weblog we will comment and focus our attention on security-related information in the broadest sense of the word. Most of our effort will be put into cryptography (ancient and contemporary), interesting security documents and tools we spot on the web and security trends.

monday, 15 september, 2008
Starting a career in cryptography?

Many of today cryptography books require a solid background in mathematics. Take for example the "Handbook of Applied Cryptography", which can be downloaded freely at http://www.cacr.math.uwaterloo.ca/hac/. Browsing this book might easily scare off people who are interested in the field of cryptography and cryptanalysis. This, however, is a shame, since elaborate mathematical knowledge isn't always required to become successful in this fascinating field (although it comes in handy from time to time). Take for example the following quote by Lambros D. Callimahos, a close colleague of the brilliant William F. Friedman:

 

There is no least common denominator of what makes a brilliant cryptanalyst; he can be a mathematician but he may just as likely be an archeologist, a chemist, a biologist, a musician, a gambler, a paInter or a cook - in short, just about anything. Now Mr. Friedman's background in mathematics was slight college freshman mathematics. Even if he computed odds incorrectly, it didn't make any difference because he would forge ahead in his blissful ignorance and solve the problem anyway. On several occasions he told me that if he had had more of a mathematical background, he might not have been able to solve some of the things he did.

 

Therefore: don't let the math scare you! If you find something interesting, go for it, with or without elaborate math knowledge. For those who are interested in some funny stories about William F. Friedman, read Callimahos' account at http://www.nsa.gov/public/pdf/legendary_william_friedman.pdf.

posted by casper van eersel on 17:01PM