Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Cryptic - Book Review

Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction
Fred Piper & Sean Murphy
ISBN-13: 978-0192803153

This excellent series of books has always been a great way to "plug knowledge gaps" and the Cryptography title is no exception: however, notwithstanding the slender format and its purpose as an introductory text, this should not imply either an absence of gravitas or effort-free knowledge.

Indeed, given that the information density in this volume is as high as its sister titles and the fact that cryptography is meant to be hard to decipher, this book is quite challenging in places and newcomers to the subject will almost certainly benefit from taking plenty of time to absorb the content and reflect on its lessons. Nonetheless, despite its complexity, Murphy and Piper have produced an excellent introduction to the topic and those exploring the potential of encryption for for the first time will find it an invaluable resource that provides the much needed context that is largely absent in the usual “how to” manuals.

Obviously, 130 pages or so isn't really sufficient space for a wholly comprehensive treatise on encryption but the authors manage to provide both historical and modern perspectives as well as discussing the practical application of encryption without loosing sight of its security implications or vulnerabilities. This is an astonishing feat given such a compact form and Murphy and Piper are to be congratulated on their achievement.


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