List of Ciphers and Codes (All Types with Examples)
Ciphers form the basis of cryptography. This is a list of ciphers and codes, those that need a key for encryption-decryption process and also simple ciphers.
Before listing all cipher types and codes I would like to explain the most important terms and concepts in encryption.
Cipher or cypher – is mathematical formula or an algorithm that is done step by step for encryption and decryption of a message.
Plaintext – refers to the message in its original or decrypted form before transforming it into an unreadable form. The sender encrypts the message using a secret key before sending it to the recipient or receiver.
Ciphertext – is a scrambled message resulting from transformations done on the plain text.
Decipher or decode – is simply a way to decrypt or revert the encrypted text into the readable form.
Cryptanalysis or code-breaking – is the process used to solve or break a cryptosystem with or without a key. Cracking is mostly achieved through techniques like brute force and letter frequency analysis
Cryptanalyst or code breaker – is an attacker aiming to crack secret messages exchanged between two or more parties with or without the encryption key. The intercept is cracked by using frequency distribution based on the letters of the alphabet.
Encryption or ciphering – is the process of converting text to unreadable form using a secure encryption scheme and a secret key.
A cryptographer or code maker – develops algorithms and systems that aim to keep data and information security.
Cryptology is the mathematics, such as number theory, and the application of formulas and algorithms, that underpin cryptography and cryptanalysis.
Cryptography often referred to as crypto is the art and science used to conceal messages to introduce secrecy in information.
Steganography is a technique used to hide information in plain sight by embedding it in a file such as a picture. In this technique data, is not encrypted before it’s transmitted but relies only the upon message being undetectable.
Most common types of ciphers and codes are easy to implement and break while others are very complicated and have a high degree of complexity. Thus, deciphering these types of ciphers by pen and paper is very hard and therefore, a computer is needed.
Codes are basically concerned with semantics while ciphers emphasize syntax and symbols. With codes, specified strings of keywords are stored in a codebook hence faster while cryptographic ciphers are controlled by a set of steps or an algorithm.
For example, using codes I would encode the phrase (kifanga), with the digits (25).
Here is a list of 110 ciphers and codes used from the historical ages to modern times organized in different types and categories.
List of Ciphers
A list of Polyalphabetic Substitution ciphers
This uses a set of two mobile circular disks which can rotate easily.
This system combines two grids commonly called (Polybius) and a single key for encryption.
This encryption algorithm uses two evolving disk alphabet.
This is also very similar to vigenere cipher. The key used to encrypt and decrypt and it also needs to be a number.
This one uses a cylinder with several wheels for its operation.
It uses 8 grids that are all generated from a single keyword.
It works through a series of letter shifting. The first letter is not shifted, the second letter is shifted up by 1, the third letter by 2 upshifts and the rest.
Vernam (one-time pad)
Mostly used during war ii, in this cipher, the key is repeated as long as the plaintext making it very hard to break. It is very similar and identical to vigenere cipher. It’s considered arithmetically unbreakable.
It was invented by Julius Caesar for his military intelligence and correspondence. This encryption scheme uses a substitution of a letter by another one further in the alphabet. It is commonly known as shift cipher or caesar code.
Atbash mirror code
It is one of the simplest ciphers that was initially used with the Hebraic alphabet. But it can be modified to work with the English alphabet (abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz). The first letter of the alphabet is substituted with the last one, the second letter, with the second last one and the same pattern follows.