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Cryptography is, traditionally, the study of ways to convert information from its normal, comprehensible form into an obscured guise, unreadable without special knowledge — the practice of encryption. In the past, cryptography helped ensure secrecy in important communications, such as those of spies, military leaders, and diplomats. In recent decades, the field of cryptography has expanded its remit. Examples include:
- providing mechanisms for more than just keeping secrets: schemes like digital signatures and digital cash, or intellectual property protection, for example.
- protection of routine transmission of data across publicly accessible channels. Cryptography has come to be in widespread use by many civilians who may not have extraordinary needs for secrecy (at least by governmental standards).
- See also: List of cryptography topics
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