Secret Code

Secret codes keep messages private. Codes are very useful for sending secret military information during wartime. Banks, companies, and government agencies also use secret codes in doing business, especially when information is sent by computer. People have used secret codes for thousands of years. As long as there have been codes, people have tried to break them. Code breaking never lags far behind code making.The science of creating and reading coded messages is called cryptography (pronounced krip-TOG-ruh-fee). The word means “hidden writing.” There are three main types of hidden writing. They are concealed messages, ciphers, and codes. However, all three are commonly called codes.

Concealed messages are easy to break. Once the secret is out, anyone can read them. Another way to hide a message is to use symbols to stand for specific letters of the alphabet. You might represent each letter with a number, for example. Although we call this a code, experts call it a cipher However, to work out the cipher above, you don’t need a code book. All you need to know is the system used for substitution or rearrangement. With a code book, you might write down words that would stand for other words. For example, “bridge” might stand for meet and “out” might stand for me. The message “Bridge out” would actually mean “Meet me.” It is very hard to break a code without the code book. However, it is also hard to keep a code book secret for long. So codes must be changed frequently. Ciphers are easy to use and remember. A simple cipher, however, is also easy to break. In any language, some letters are used more than others. In English, e is the most common letter, followed by t and a.

Posted 2011-01-24 and updated on Jan 24, 2011 7:48am by crisd

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