Imagine sending an important file to a client without a safeguard protecting the information in the file. The likelihood of an unauthorized user accessing that data is much higher without encryption.
To understand what encryption is, you must also understand what plaintext and ciphertext is. Plaintext is data that is readable, plaintext is encrypted by creating an encoded version that is only readable with a decryption key, once plaintext is encrypted it becomes ciphertext. Encryption is used to safely transmit data across networks, it is created with a mathematical procedure otherwise known as cryptography.
There are two types of algorithms that are used to encrypt data today: symmetric and asymmetric.
Symmetric cryptography uses the same secret key to both encrypt plaintext and the decrypt of ciphertext, since it uses the same key that’s how the term symmetric was coined. The key can be a series of letters, a word, or numbers.
There are two types of symmetric-key encryption: stream ciphers or block ciphers.
- Stream ciphers encrypt digits or letters of a message at once.
- Block ciphers are a number of bits that are encrypted as a single unit.
Common symmetric-key algorithms include: Blowfish, Data Standard Encryption (DES), and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Asymmetric encryption is also known as public key cryptography. Simply put, it uses two different keys to transfer data safely. One key is public and is used to encrypt plaintext, the public key is allowed to be openly distributed without compromising data. The second key is private and used to decrypt the data, the private key can only be used by the receiver.
Since asymmetric encryption is very complex, it is usually only used for small amounts of data. There are two types of asymmetric-key encryption: public key encryption and digital signatures:
- Public key encryption is where a message is encrypted with the recipient’s public key and cannot be decrypted without the matching private key.
- Digital signature is a message that is signed with the senders’ private key and is verified by whomever has access to the senders’ public key.
Common asymmetric-key algorithms include: Rivest-Shamir-Adelman (RSA), Elliptic, Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA).
Hybrid encryption is encryption that is two or more encryption methods used together. With the speed of symmetric encryption and the security of asymmetric encryption, hybrid is considered highly secure and faster.
IT systems today need modern encryption; it is vital for data security. Depending on what industry your business is in, part of compliance is to ensure you have an encryption protocol in place. Encrypting data provides three elements of security:
- Data Integrity: Proof that the message hasn’t been alter.
- Authentication: Origin of the message is verified.
- Nonrepudiation: Sender can’t deny sending the message.
For information on data encryption, contact us today.