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Modern cryptography : theory and practice
Mao W., Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2003. 740 pp. Type: Book (9780130669438)
Date Reviewed: Oct 22 2003

At first glance, this book appeared to be similar to others of its type, despite the fact that there is a transposition of letters at the top of its cover (“maunscript” instead of “manuscript”). However, irrespective of the spelling error, this is a major contribution to the field of cryptography. It is not so much that the material is new, but that the presentation and content are written in an innovative way.

The book is divided into six parts. Part 1 is the obligatory introduction to the pillars of cryptography and information security. Part 2 covers the mathematical background essential for an understanding of the field of cryptography. Part 3 explains basic cryptographic algorithms. Part 4 addresses authentication. Part 5 is a sophisticated treatment of security notions for public key cryptographic techniques. The book concludes with Part 6, which addresses zero-knowledge protocols.

Part 1 consists of two chapters. Both chapters are elementary, and provide an informal, but serious introduction to cryptography and cryptography protocols. Part 2 consists of four chapters, which provide a mathematical foundation for the text material. While these four chapters could also be considered introductory, the material is sophisticated and appropriate for the cryptographic professional.

Part 3 might be considered to be the beginning of the book. This part consists of four chapters. The material is principally concerned with those algorithms that concern themselves with security, privacy, and data integrity.

Part 4 contains four chapters, which meld to provide an in-depth coverage of authentication. Part 5, also four chapters, is a thorough treatment of the required rigorous techniques for implementation of strong security notions.

Part 6, with two chapters, concludes the text. Chapter 19 is devoted to the topic of zero-knowledge protocols, while chapter 20 is both a summary of the text and a short history of its evolution.

An interesting feature in the text is the enormous number of protocols laid out and explained. It is probably not fair to call the book a definitive source of all protocols for cryptography, but there certainly are a significant number of protocols. The serious student, and dedicated professional, will find this book a work of merit.

Reviewer:  James Van Speybroeck Review #: CR128420 (0402-0157)
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