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Crypto Terms:  Letter C
Jun 19, 2023 |
updated Apr 02, 2024

What is Cypherpunk?

Cypherpunk Meaning:
Cypherpunk - a movement focused on cryptography and privacy-focused technologies.
2 minutes

Let's find out Cypherpunk meaning, definition in crypto, what is Cypherpunk, and all other detailed facts.

Cypherpunk is an activist movement that originated in the late 1980s. It advocates for personal privacy and freedom through the use of cryptography.

Cryptography, as many new computer technologies at the time, was initially used exclusively by governmental agencies and military departments. In the 1970s, the US National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and the National Security Agency (NSA) published the Data Encryption Standard algorithm, which was developed by IBM.

In 1976, Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman authored the New Directions in Cryptography paper. Diffie and Hellman are considered to be the pioneers of public-key cryptography.

The Cypherpunk movement came together inspired by the two publications on cryptography. In 1992, Cypherpunks established a mailing list which in two years gained 700 subscribers. By 1997, around 2000 users were part of the Cypherpunks mailing list.

The mailing list was used to talk about subjects such as computer science, cryptography, and mathematics. The Cypherpunks would also discuss the topics of politics and philosophy and question the issues related to government surveillance and corporate control. Between 1996 and 1999, roughly 30 messages would be transmitted daily.

One of the key goals for Cypherpunks was to bring their concepts of widely available cryptography to the real world. Cypherpunks worked on numerous cryptography-based applications. Their technological developments are used to this day.

Some of the projects that Cypherpunks developed or contributed to are the secure data communication program Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and anonymous communication software Tor.

Cryptography played a massive role in the development of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Many of the people referenced in the Bitcoin whitepaper were part of the Cypherpunks movement, and their ideas were implemented in the development of blockchain technology.

Some of the well-known names in the crypto world, such as Adam Back or Nick Szabo, are members of the Cypherpunk movement.