Sunday, May 29, 2022

A Neophyte's Introduction to the async/await landscape in Rust

The truth of the matter is, the async/await features in other programming languages seem to be more straightforward than it is in Rust. For example in JavaScript, you have the syntax that you use, and that is about it. But in Rust, there seem to be more moving parts.

Tokio? Future? There is a futures crate? Runtimes? How do all these fit into the async/await picture in Rust?

This is a short post to help clarify some of the terms a developer would encounter when they start exploring asynchronous programming in Rust. It would explain the main moving parts, which are: the standard library's std::future::Future, the futures crates, and asynchronous runtimes like tokio and async-std.

Let get started:

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Introduction to Key Exchange for the Working Developer

In Introduction to Symmetric Encryption for the Working Developer, we saw how to encrypt and decrypt data. Being symmetric encryption, both the process of encryption and decryption needed the same key. This poses a challenge, which was not addressed in the post: How do one get across the same key to both parties who want to engage in encrypted communication?

Basically how do we perform key exchange? How do we get the same key to parties who want to encrypt and decrypt messages?

An approach is perhaps for the parties involved to first meet in person and exchange the key?

Another approach could be to use another communication channel to first share the key? But then again, if the other communication channel is digital, and it uses symmetric encryption, how should its encryption key be also exchanged? This becomes a catch 22 real quick.

This is the problem Key exchange schemes seek to solve, and thankfully there is a secure way to have two parties exchange secret keys without the need to physically meet in person. This is what this post is about. We will be looking at two popular mechanisms for key exchange: Diffie-Hellman key exchange procedures and application of RSA for key exchange.

As always, as with the other posts in this series, the idea is to provide the basic information needed by the working developer to be able to understand and use these cryptographic primitives without going into the thick of their internal details or implementation.

This post contains the following sections

  • Entering the realm of Public Key Cryptography
  • Introduction to Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange: An Intuition.
  • Whirlwind tour of the Mathematics
  • Diffie-Hellman in code
  • Diffie-Hellman Standards
  • Using RSA for key exchange
  • Conclusion and References

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Introduction to Authenticated Encryption for the Working Developer

In Introduction to Symmetric Encryption for the Working Developer, I presented an overview of symmetric encryption. Which as explained in the post, is a process for establishing confidentiality during communication between two parties.

The only problem is that just encrypting data using symmetric encryption does not provide all the security requirements needed during secure communication.

The issue is that, it is still possible for an eavesdropper to tamper with the message even without being able to make sense of the ciphertexts, and the receiving party won't be made aware that the message they are decrypting has been tampered with and is not exactly the original one that was sent.

Hence even though encryption gives us confidentiality, done alone, it does not guarantee the other security requirements like authenticity/integrity that is often needed - i.e. it does not guarantee that a message came from the right party (authenticity) and it has not been modified in any way (integrity).

Encryption alone is not enough, we need authenticated encryption. This post will introduce the concept of authenticated encryption.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Introduction to Symmetric Encryption for the Working Developer

Encryption is all about establishing confidentiality. That is, making sure only authorised parties have access to specific data. It involves transforming data into a form that is inscrutable to unauthorised parties but with the ability for authorised parties to transform the data back into its legible form.

Think about two parties communicating without wanting other persons privy to the messages. This is achieved via the cryptographic primitive of Encryption.

In this post, I will provide a whirlwind tour of what encryption is for the working developer. The goal is to provide the basic information needed to be able to properly wield this cryptography tool without going into the inner workings of the algorithm. It is part of the Cryptography101 series of posts.

This post contains the following

  • What Encryption is and its main components
  • What Encryption is not
  • Symmetric Encryption vs Asymmetric Encryption.
  • Block Cipher vs Stream Cipher.
  • Overview of encryption Standards
  • Components of AES
    • Key
    • Padding
    • Mode