Affine cipher is a monoalphabetic substitution cipher where each letter in an alphabet is mapped to its numeric equivalent, encrypted using a simple mathematical function, and converted back to a letter.

To put it simply, each letter of value x in a 26 letters alphabet in affine cipher is converted into another letter with the value ax + b modulo 26.

Affine cipher relies on the length of the alphabet used, modulo m. Calculation are performed on the plaintext letters to encode the message.

- Read: Caesar cipher.

The difference between affine cipher and other substitution ciphers is that the encryption process is substantially mathematical.

A brief history of affine cipher:

The author and the date that this cipher was invented is not known.

Are you interested in **finding out more about ciphers and codes**?

The Codebreakers – The Story of Secret Writing book by David Kahn is what I would start with.

### How to encrypt using Affine cipher:

First, you need to choose an alphabet and two integers (coefficients or keys), A and B.

**Affine cipher example:**

**Plaintext**: Affine Cipher.

**Alphabet**: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.

**Keys**: A = 5, B = 8.

For each letter of the alphabet is associated with the value of its position in the alphabet, starting at 0.

This means, A = 0, B =1, and so on.

For each letter of value x of the plaintext, is associated with the value y, result of the affine function:

y = A*x+B mod 26.

For each value y, corresponds to the letter with the same position in the alphabet, it is the encoded letter.

For example, if x is plaintext letter C, at position 2:

Where y is the result of the affine function operation:

y = 5*2+8 mod 26

y = 18.

The letter at position 18 is the ciphertext letter S.

So the plaintext letter C has been encoded to ciphertext letter S using the mathematical operation.

Thus, **ciphertext**: IHHWVC SWFRCP.

**How to decrypt affine cipher**:

First, you need to know the two keys A and B and the alphabet that was used to encode the message.

For each letter of the alphabet is associated with the value of its position in the alphabet, starting at 0.

- Read: Playfair cipher.

This means, A = 0, B =1, and so on.

For each letter of value y of the message, corresponds to the value x, a result of the inverse function x= A’*(y-b) mod 26.

The value A’ is an integer such as A*A’ = 1 mod 26.

So, to find A’, calculate a modular inverse.

Here is an example:

**Ciphertext**: IHHWVC SWFRCP.

**Keys**: A =5, B =8.

A coefficient A’ for A= 5 with an alphabet size of 26 is 21 because:

5*21 = 105 = 1 mod 26.

For example, if y is ciphertext letter S, at position 18:

Where x is the result of the reverse affine function operation:

x = 21(18-8) mod 26.

x = 2.

The letter at position 18 is the plaintext letter C.

So the ciphertext letter S has been decoded to plaintext letter C using the reverse mathematical operation.

Thus, **plaintext**: affine cipher.

### How to recognize an affine ciphertext

A message encoded by affine has an index of coincidence close to that of the plaintext language used.

### How to decipher Affine without coefficient

To break Affine, you need to brute force all A and B coefficients.

If the alphabet is 26 characters long, then A coefficient has only 12 possible values, and B has 26 values.

- Read: What is cryptanalysis.

So only about 312 possible combinations to try out.

### How to compute A’ value

Calculate the modular inverse of A, modulo the length of the alphabet.

### How to calculate B’ value

B’ has the same value as B.

What are the A’ values:

The value of A’ depends on A, but also on the alphabet length.

For a classic 26 characters long alphabet the values of A’ are:

A = 1 | A’ = 1 |

A = 3 | A’ = 9 |

A = 5 | A’ = 21 |

A = 7 | A’ = 15 |

A = 9 | A’ = 3 |

A = 11 | A’ = 19 |

A = 15 | A’ = 7 |

A = 17 | A’ = 23 |

A = 19 | A’ = 11 |

A = 21 | A’ = 5 |

A = 23 | A’ = 17 |

A = 25 | A’ = 25 |

**Why is there a constraint on the value of A**

The Bezout’s theorem indicates that A’ only exists if A and 26 (alphabet length are co-prime.

This limits A values to 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 (if the alphabet is 26 characters long).

### Is it possible to use a key A not co-prime with 26

Yes, but an automatic decryption process becomes impossible, a single encrypted letter will have multiple plain letters possible.

Does a negative value for A exists:

Yes, but it exists a positive corresponding value, a value of A = -1 is equal to a value of A = 25 ( because 25 = -1 mod 26).

### Is there a limitation on B value

No, B can take any value.

Are you interested in learning **how to break codes**?

The Elementary Cryptanalysis – A Mathematical Approach book by Abraham Sinkov is what I would recommend.