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This article will define two-way key cryptography and explain how it differs from other well known PHP functions, like md5 and rot13, and when it is appropriate to use one-way hashing or two-way encryption. Then we will step through installing mcrypt as a dynamically loadable extension. We will explore two applications: encrypting cookies, and encrypting database information (such as credit card numbers). The article will point out some of the security implications of creating an encryption/decryption scheme in a plain text scripting language, and offer solutions such as encoding, source-compiling commands, and authoring new extensions.

Why Cryptography?
The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed.
-Charlotte Brontë, Evening Solace

Part of human nature is the desire to conceal. In computing, this is cryptography - the study of hiding and unhiding information. With the advent of the Internet, it has never been more relevant. One of the most useful forms of cryptography, made popular by PGP, is two-way key cryptography.
This article will define two-way key cryptography and explain how it differs from other well known PHP functions, like md5 and rot13, and when it is appropriate to use one-way hashing or two way encryption. Then we will step through installing mcrypt as a dynamically loadable extension. We will explore two applications: encrypting cookies, and encrypting database information (such as credit card numbers). The article will point out some of the security implications of creating an encryption/decryption scheme in a plain text scripting language, and offer solutions such as encoding, source-compiling commands, and authoring new extensions.



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