Claudio Koller · 3/9/2023

Brief Insight into the Cryptography behind Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the world's first and best-known cryptocurrency. The digital currency is secured by cryptographic methods and is built on cryptography.

Secure Communication through Cryptography

Only with the help of cryptography is it possible to communicate securely electronically today. It is a method of securing and transmitting data in a certain form. Only those who are intended for the data can read and process it.

Definition Cryptography

Cryptography (from Greek: kryptós «hidden», and gráphein «to write») is the application of mathematical procedures to develop techniques and algorithms that protect the security of information.

Origin of Cryptography

The origin of cryptography is estimated to be around 2000 BC. At that time, the Egyptians used hieroglyphics. These consisted of complex pictograms whose full meaning was known only to a few.

The first known use of a modern cipher goes back to the Romans (100 BC to 44 BC). The officers did not trust their intermediaries when communicating with others. Therefore, they developed a system in which they replaced each letter of their message with the letter that followed three positions later in the Roman alphabet.

Asymmetric Encryption in Bitcoin

Cryptography in bitcoin uses complex mathematical methods. In this case, it is referred to as asymmetric encryption.

In this method, two different keys are used. The public key is responsible for encryption and the private key is responsible for decryption. The special feature here is that the public key may be known to everyone, whereas the private key should remain secret.

The private key and the public key are cryptographically linked. This means that the public key is derived from the private key. Messages encrypted with a particular public key can only be decrypted with the corresponding private key.

Brute Force Attacks with Bitcoin

In bitcoin encryption, only the brute force attack exists to crack the cryptographic message.

The brute force attack means that one simply tries all available possibilities that could be a solution. If one combination does not lead to the goal, you take the next one.

You can imagine this as if you forgot the combination of a four-digit combination lock. Thus, one simply starts with four zeros and then slowly tries to increase the number. 0001, 0002, 0003, ... 9998, 9999. Of course, such brute force attacks are controlled by many different algorithms, which rather try often used combinations, at least when it comes to simply finding out a four-digit number.

In the case of bitcoin, however, this leads to an unimaginably large amount of computing. One would consume huge amounts of electrical energy to run the computers that randomly solve the cryptographic puzzle. In the process, the computers go through several million combinations per second to guess the puzzle or private key.

> Learn more about Hash Functions in Bitcoin.


Cryptography and bitcoin are closely linked, with cryptography playing a crucial role in the security and decentralization of the digital currency.

Bitcoin's use of cryptography enables secure and verifiable transactions on the blockchain, ensuring that users can trust that their transactions are being processed correctly.

The decentralized nature of bitcoin, enabled by cryptography, allows for censorship-resistant as well as peer-to-peer transactions that were previously not possible with the traditional financial system.

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