The question Break an authentication protocol based on a pre-shared symmetric key was tagged with both and .

What is the difference between these tags, and when should each be used?

  • $\begingroup$ I retagged the question as "crypto" only, according to my answer below. $\endgroup$
    – Ran G.
    Mar 17, 2012 at 23:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ security is far more general than cryptography. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2012 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


My stand on it is similar to the distinction between crypto.SE and ITsecurity.SE (which is slightly vague and sometime ambiguous)

is for more theoretical primitives , algorithms and methods and the their analysis. (e.g, AES, ZK-proofs, signature schemes, etc.)

is for security in real-world systems and practical questions.(e.g., computer forensics, DDS and network security, etc.)

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I think the main point is that security is way broader than crypto. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael Mod
    Mar 18, 2012 at 0:57

I wasn't sure what to use. I'm not too keen on here either, but I do want have a way to distinguish mathematical primitives from abstract cryptography. How about , for that matter?

  • $\begingroup$ can you explain what abstract-crypto will include? $\endgroup$
    – Ran G.
    Mar 17, 2012 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ @RanG. I've heard it used for the study of protocols in which crypto primitives are treated as black boxes (“$E$ is symmetric encryption algorithm, $H$ is a hash, …”). I don't know how widespread this terminology is. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2012 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ this is just plain theoretical cryptography: assuming one-way functions, (good) encryptoin schemes, etc. I don't see the need to call it theoretical-cryptography $\endgroup$
    – Ran G.
    Mar 18, 2012 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ see this. But I don't think there is need to have separate crypto tags for these. (ps: abstract crpto is a very bad name.) $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Mar 18, 2012 at 3:02
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If anything protocols should be cryptographic-protocols. Abstract-cryptography seems to be going too fine-grained. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2012 at 13:10

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