Cover picture for the book, nicked from Amazon

Found this book lurking on the shelves in the CompSci area of our university library and thought I’d read it just to see if it was interesting. As a child, like many of the people described in the book, I had a fascination with codes, code-breaking, the old lemon juice and matches approach to hiding and finding messages. That interest waned as I got more interested in other things … writing, coding, etc. Until this book.

Steven Levy’s Crypto is a fantastic tale, immersing you in both the events in the history of the crypto movement (and the cypherpunks) and the personalities involved. He really seems concerned with telling a story, but along the way you learn massive amounts about the various agencies and organisations involved, along with the algorithms and other tech advances that brought crypto to the masses.

I got a much better understanding of various aspects of encoding, decoding and general computer security from this, as well as a sense of wonder at the things going on in the background whenever I use a computer. I was also entertained for many train journeys and evenings — I would recommend this book to anyone from the coder who wants a better understanding of the algorithms being used in secure applications to those with just a passing interest in how these new-fangled computer thingeys are changing our society. Crypto meets a variety of needs in an interesting and captivating way.

[Note: The picture is nicked from the Amazon page that it links to, where you can buy the book]

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