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It is time to take a deep breath. To really understand Bitcoin and
cryptocurrencies at more than just a superficial cocktail party level you
will have to understand a few concepts from a branch of mathematics
called cryptography. The section on cryptocurrencies will assume you are
familiar with the concepts discussed here.
Don’t skip this chapter—it’ll be fun. Cryptography is, among other things,
about sending secret messages that can be read only by the intended
recipient. It is the stuff that spies use. We will cover encryption and
decryption (the encoding and decoding of messages), hashing (turning
data into fingerprint digests), and digital signatures (proofs that you have
created or approved a message).
Cryptography is, however, not just for spies, criminals, and terrorists. It is
now used extensively to protect data that travels across the internet. The
‘s’ in ‘https’ stands for secure. It means that cryptography is being used to
guarantee that the website you think you are visiting is in fact the genuine
website. It also means that the data in flight between you and that
website is encrypted or jumbled up, so snoopers can’t easily read the
communications between your device and the website that you are

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