Cyber Security.. A Short History

Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.
– Sir. Alan Turing 

​Cyber security has become one of the hot topics that are discussed nowadays in different media. In the last five years, many articles were written about hackers that were arrested or banks that were attacked just with viruses and malwares. The last attack was called Petya, and it is a well-implemented ransomware which attacked many countries around the globe (Hern & Solon, 2017). Ransomwares are kind of bad computer programs that lock individual’s data and request them to pay in order to unlock it. The other incident, which happened 2 weeks ago, was a ransomware called WannaCry. It attacks computers running Windows operating system. This ransomware has attacked more than one hundred countries around the world. It has frozen metro activities in many German cities and many hospitals in England.

Historically speaking, the invention of the theory of computing was due to the need of Great Britain to decrypt the cipher of the Nazis. The Nazis were sending their messages in an encrypted format that change every twelve hours. So, British scientists had just twelve hours to decrypt a message which had billions of permutations because of Enigma encryption. This mission proved to be impossible by hand because even if they achieved to test each permutation in one second, they would not be possible to them to decrypt the message (Copeland, 2005).

A British scientist called Alan Turing came up with an idea that reduced the duration of World War II by fourteen years. It was based on cryptography which is one of the fundamental fields in cyber security. He noticed that the messages always started with a name. So, he reduced searching time, and he made a machine called “the Bomb” to decrypt the messages computationally. He set up a model to follow, based on cryptanalysis and mathematics. And he reached his goal in decrypting Enigma in 1943 by helping the allies to avoid German forces during the Battle of the Atlantic. Decrypting Enigma was one of the challenges that helped in the rise of cyber security as we know it today. So, computer science in general was invented to serve Humanity and to put an end to the war regardless of the political meaning of stopping World War II (Copeland, 2005).


Turing, A. M., & Copeland, B. J. (2005). Alan Turing’s automatic computing engine: the master codebreakers struggle to build the modern computer. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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