ICT: Exploring Electronic Encryption

ICT: Exploring Electronic Encryption

The Year 8 Computer Science group have been learning about electronic encryption methods in their work on digital communication.  This included a look at one of the simplest forms of encoding a message, using a "Caesar Cipher", whereby letters in the message are offset a certain number of positions in the alphabet.

As part of their studies, the students were challenged to produce a system that would encrypt a message by scrambling the order of words in a sentence.  For extra security, extra randomly selected words would also be added.  This exercise was done using Microsoft Excel, employing the "VLOOKUP" formula and "IF" statements, amongst others, to create a spreadsheet that could encrypt a message instantly using any offset value entered. 

Some children even managed to create multiple offset steps to encode their message even more thoroughly, and thereby effectively creating a basic simulation of how the Enigma encoding machine worked.

Throughout this module, the children have developed a basic understanding of encryption methods that employ mathematical principles, which in turn helps to reinforce our pupil's awareness of the importance for security in digital communications.

An example of one of the pupil's systems, created by Callum Cartmel  from Year 8, is annotated with his notes about how it works above.

Peter Barclay

Head of ICT