The Affine cipher is a type of monoalphabetic substitution cipher, wherein each letter in an alphabet is mapped to its numeric equivalent and then encrypted using a simple mathematical function. It inherits the weaknesses of all substitution ciphers. A simple Caesar shift is a type of affine cipher, wherein each letter is enciphered with the function , where is the magnitude of the shift.
Description[]
In the affine cipher the letters of an alphabet of size are first mapped to the integers in the range . It then uses modular arithmetic to transform the integer that each plaintext letter corresponds to into another integer that correspond to a ciphertext letter. The encryption function for a single letter is
where modulus is the size of the alphabet and and are the key of the cipher. The value must be chosen such that and are coprime. The decryption function is
where is the modular multiplicative inverse of modulo . I.e., it satisfies the equation
The multiplicative inverse of only exists if and are coprime. Hence without the restriction on decryption might not be possible. It can be shown as follows that decryption function is the inverse of the encryption function,
Weaknesses[]
Since the affine cipher is still a monoalphabetic substitution cipher, it inherits the weaknesses of that class of ciphers. The Caesar cipher is the Affine cipher when since the encrypting function simply reduces to a linear shift.
Considering the specific case of encrypting messages in English (i.e. ), there are a total of 286 nontrivial affine ciphers, not counting the 26 trivial Caesar ciphers. This number comes from the fact there are 12 numbers that are coprime with 26 that are less than 26 (these are the possible values of ). Each value of can have 26 different addition shifts (the value); therefore, there are 12*26 or 312 possible keys. This lack of variety renders the system as highly insecure when considered in light of Kerckhoffs' Principle.
The cipher's primary weakness comes from the fact that if the cryptanalyst can discover (by means of frequency analysis, brute force, guessing or otherwise) the plaintext of two ciphertext characters then the key can be obtained by solving a simultaneous equation. Since we know and are relatively prime this can be used to rapidly discard many "false" keys in an automated system.
The same type of transformation used in affine ciphers is used in linear congruential generators, a type of pseudorandom number generator. This generator is not a cryptographically secure pseudorandom number generator for the same reason that the affine cipher is not secure.
Examples[]
In these two examples, one encrypting and one decrypting, the alphabet is going to be the letters A through Z, and will have the corresponding values found in the following table.
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 

0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25 
Encrypting[]
In this encrypting example^{[1]}, the plaintext to be encrypted is "AFFINE CIPHER" using the table mentioned above for the numeric values of each letter, taking to be 5, to be 8, and to be 26 since there are 26 characters in the alphabet being used. Only the value of has a restriction since it has to be coprime with 26. The possible values that could be are 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, and 25. The value for can be arbitrary as long as does not equal 1 since this is the shift of the cipher. Thus, the encryption function for this example will be . The first step in encrypting the message is to write the numeric values of each letter.
plaintext:  A  F  F  I  N  E  C  I  P  H  E  R 
x:  0  5  5  8  13  4  2  8  15  7  4  17 
Now, take each value of x, and solve the first part of the equation, . After finding the value of for each character, take the remainder when dividing the result of by 26. The following table shows the first four steps of the encrypting process.
plaintext:  A  F  F  I  N  E  C  I  P  H  E  R 
x:  0  5  5  8  13  4  2  8  15  7  4  17 
8  33  33  48  73  28  18  48  83  43  28  93  
8  7  7  22  21  2  18  22  5  17  2  15 
The final step in encrypting the message is to look up each numeric value in the table for the corresponding letters. In this example, the encrypted text would be IHHWVCSWFRCP. The table below shows the completed table for encrypting a message in the Affine cipher.
plaintext:  A  F  F  I  N  E  C  I  P  H  E  R 
x:  0  5  5  8  13  4  2  8  15  7  4  17 
8  33  33  48  73  28  18  48  83  43  28  93  
8  7  7  22  21  2  18  22  5  17  2  15  
ciphertext:  I  H  H  W  V  C  S  W  F  R  C  P 
Decrypting[]
In this decryption example, the ciphertext that will be decrypted is the ciphertext from the encryption example. The corresponding decryption function is , where is calculated to be 21, is 8, and is 26. To begin, write the numeric equivalents to each letter in the ciphertext, as shown in the table below.
ciphertext:  I  H  H  W  V  C  S  W  F  R  C  P 
y:  8  7  7  22  21  2  18  22  5  17  2  15 
Now, the next step is to compute , and then take the remainder when that result is divided by 26. The following table shows the results of both computations.
ciphertext:  I  H  H  W  V  C  S  W  F  R  C  P 
y:  8  7  7  22  21  2  18  22  5  17  2  15 
21(y8):  0  21  21  294  273  126  210  294  63  189  126  147 
(21(y8)) mod 26:  0  5  5  8  13  4  2  8  15  7  4  17 
The final step in decrypting the ciphertext is to use the table to convert numeric values back into letters. The plaintext in this decryption is AFFINECIPHER. Below is the table with the final step completed.
ciphertext:  I  H  H  W  V  C  S  W  F  R  C  P 
y:  8  7  7  22  21  2  18  22  5  17  2  15 
21(y8):  0  21  21  294  273  126  210  294  63  189  126  147 
(21(y8)) mod 26:  0  5  5  8  13  4  2  8  15  7  4  17 
plaintext:  A  F  F  I  N  E  C  I  P  H  E  R 
Entire alphabet encoded[]
To make encrypting and decrypting quicker, the entire alphabet can be encrypted to create a one to one map between the letters of the cleartext and the ciphertext. In this example, the one to one map would be the following:
letter in the cleartext  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 

number in the cleartext  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25 
(5x+8)mod(26)  8  13  18  23  2  7  12  17  22  1  6  11  16  21  0  5  10  15  20  25  4  9  14  19  24  3 
ciphertext letter  I  N  S  X  C  H  M  R  W  B  G  L  Q  V  A  F  K  P  U  Z  E  J  O  T  Y  D 
Programming examples[]
Using the Python programming language, the following code can be used to create an encrypted alphabet using the Roman letters A through Z.
#Prints a transposition table for an affine cipher.
#a must be coprime to m=26.
def affine(a, b):
for i in range(26):
print chr(i+65) + ": " + chr(((a*i+b)%26)+65)
#An example call
affine(5, 8)
Or in Pascal:
Procedure Affine(a,b : Integer);
begin
for num := 0 to 25 do
WriteLn(Chr(i+65) , ': ' , Chr(((a*i + b) mod 26) + 65);
end;
begin
Affine(5,8)
end.
See also[]
 Affine functions
 Atbash code
 Caesar cipher
 ROT13
 Topics in cryptography
References[]

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