We discuss several applications of information theory in cryptography, both for unconditional and for computational security. Unconditionally-secure secrecy, authentication, and key agreement are reviewed. It is argued that unconditional security can practically be achieved by exploiting the fact that cryptography takes place in a physical world in which, for instance due to noise, nobody can have complete information about the state of a system.
The general concept of an information-theoretic cryptographic primitive is proposed which covers many previously considered primitives like oblivious transfer, noisy channels, and multi-party computation. Many results in information-theoretic cryptography can be phrased as reductions among such primitives We also propose the concept of a generalized random oracle which answers more general queries than the evaluation of a random function. They have applications in proofs of the computational security of certain cryptographic schemes.
This extended abstract summarizes in an informal and non-technical way some of the material presented in the author's lecture at Crypto '99.
Key words: Information theory, unconditional security, conditional independence, information-theoretic primitive, generalized random oracle.