Applied Cryptography
Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C

Authored by Bruce Schneier
2nd Edition
Paperback, 784 pages
Published by John Wiley & Sons
Publication date: 1995-12-01
ISBN: 0471117099

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Applied Cryptography is a good introduction to encryption technology. As a first-time cryptography reader, I found the book easy to understand and well written, although a few chapters might require you to read them through two or three times before you understand what it says.

After reading this book, I'm left with the impression that cryptology is difficult, but not all that impossible. Instead of focusing on the particular details in each algorithm, Bruce Schneier tries to explain it's strong and weak sides as well as pointing out to us where it is best used. I find this approach more appealing than the hardcore "this is how we do it" approach I was expecting.

(the hardcore fans get what they want when he dissects the algorithms after explaining them in lay-man's terms)

The back of the book is filled with the source code for each algorithm he has covered. As the subtitle states, this is in C, so VB'ers will have to find the source elsewhere. However, it is worth the effort to implement the algorithms from scratch with the C code as a template.

If you're looking to get into cryptography, this seems like a fine book to start with.