When most people hear the word “cryptography” their mind immediately turns to the Enigma machine that the Germans used in the second world war or the one time pads used by spies during the cold war. For centuries, cryptography was primarily used in diplomatic and military settings, and new developments in cryptography were designed to further these goals.
Quite a bit, however, has changed in the last quarter century: the advent of the personal computer and the internet has brought cryptography into people’s homes. Electronic commerce has developed and grown into an industry with nearly one hundred billion dollars of sales annually, and people now want to use their home computers to trade stocks, pay bills, and make all of their purchases. These changes in our society have led to new cryptographic techniques, which were developed to make sure that our financial system stays safe and secure. Many of these developments fall into an area which is known as “Financial Cryptography”, which covers issues ranging from untraceable digital cash to digital rights management on MP3 files. CRC Press has recently published a Handbook of Financial Cryptography and Security, edited by Burton Rosenberg and collecting nineteen chapters by some of the leading cryptographers in the field.
To give a sense of the breadth and diversity of topics included under the umbrella of Financial Cryptography, one only needs to look at the chapter titles:
As one would expect from this type of book, and as readers who have perused other books in the “Handbook” series by CRC Press know well, there is quite a bit of variation from chapter to chapter. Some of the chapters provide rough overviews of the area while others get into many technical details, some chapters have extensive prerequisites in terms of the mathematics and computer science that they expect a reader to know, and others would be quite accessible to an undergraduate — in fact, one of the students in my First Year Seminar on cryptography used part of this book for their final project this past semester! Some chapters give a historical overview of their topic, while others choose to look only towards the future of what the coming decades will hold. As a whole, the chapters are well-written and provide a good introduction addressing current thinking on a variety of complex and subtle technical areas. Most of the chapters have thorough reference lists, and this is certainly a book that any cryptography library should include.
This is not a book that one would pick up and read cover to cover, but instead is a book that contains many interesting ideas showing how, in the twenty-first century, cryptography is more complicated and also more important than just the messages that Alice sends to Bob.
Darren Glass is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Gettysburg College whose research interests include number theory, algebraic geometry, and cryptography. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Introduction, Burton Rosenberg
Protocols and Theory
E-Cash, Mira Belenkiy
Auctions, Felix Brandt
Electronic Voting, Aggelos Kiayias
Nonrepudiation, Jianying Zhou
Fair Exchange, Mohammad Torabi Dashti and Sjouke Mauw
Broadcast and Content Distribution, Serdar Pehlivanoglu
Systems, Device, Banking, and Commerce
Micropayment Systems, Róbert Párhonyi
Digital Rights Management, Reihaneh Safavi-Naini and Nicholas Paul Sheppard
Trusted Computing, Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi and Christian Wachsmann
Hardware Security Modules, Sean Smith
Portfolio Trading, Michael Szydlo
Risk, Threats, Countermeasures, and Trust
Phishing, Markus Jakobsson, Sid Stamm, and Chris Soghoian
Anonymity and Privacy, George Danezis, Claudia Diaz, and Paul Syverson
Digital Watermarking, Mauro Barni and Stefan Katzenbeisser
Identity Management, Robin Wilton
Public Key Infrastructure, Carl Ellison
Human Factors, Lynne Coventry
Legal Issues, Margaret Jackson
Regulatory Compliance, Radu Sion and Marianne Winslett