What is Encryption?
Encryption is used to protect our data or information. In this way, data is understandable only to authorized persons. In technical terms, it means that data is converted to a type that is not accessible to humans. But the literal meaning of encryption is that it takes human-readable data and converts it into a secret code that hides the true meaning of data. The term encryption is not a digital term. It is known that in ancient times data was encrypted with the help of some symbols. In computing terms, the encrypted text is known by the name incomprehensible text.
In contrast, un-encrypted data is known as plain text. The branch of science which deals with the encryption and decryption of information is known as cryptography. In today’s time, encryption is done with the help of encryption algorithms. We must have a key to encrypt data. Usually, this key is generated automatically at the time of encryption.
Types of encryption
Let us have a look at the major types of encryption without digging further into it. Two types of encryption are known today. These are:
In this type of encryption, we have only one key commonly used to encrypt and decrypt data. In this method, we have to pre-install that key on both the systems where data is encrypted and decrypted. Block algorithms and stream algorithms are further two types of symmetric encryption. This is the fastest method as it contains only one key.
As we know, in symmetric encryption, only one key is used for both encryption and decryption of data. On the other hand, asymmetric encryption uses a two-key approach. The system used to encrypt data must provide a public key for the system it wants to communicate. At the time of decryption system must enter the public key and private key of the system. In this way, this a safer method as compared to symmetric encryption. The form of asymmetric encryption is also known as public-key encryption. As this method contains two keys, this makes it a bit slower as compared to symmetric encryption.
Why is encryption necessary?
Encryption is vital in our daily life. To know the importance, we can discuss points on some points.
Privacy is one of the critical points of encryption. Encryption ensures that no one can access data except authorized users. This prevents attackers or hackers from accessing data.
Security: Encryption helps us to protect from data breaches. The data inside a hard disk is encrypted so, if we lose our hard drive, then we should not worry because the data inside it is not accessible.
Authentication: As we know, for asymmetric encryption, we should have public and private keys. If we are accessing a website, we must enter the public and private key. If it is accessed through, then we knew that we are on the right website.
Regulations: Many governments or private companies, while making contracts, demand that our data must be encrypted.
Algorithms that are used by asymmetric and symmetric encryption are known as encryption algorithms. This method is used to convert the plain text into ciphertext or incomprehensive text. This data must be decrypted with the help of a decryption key. Some standard encryption algorithms are discussed below:
AES, which is also known as the advanced encryption standard, is a world-wide system for encryption. It is in use for the US government since 2002. This is known as the most crucial symmetric method. It uses a 128-bit block size to encrypt data.
DES, which is also known as a data encryption standard, is considered a low-level encryption system. The US government used it in 1977. But in modern times, it is not reliable because it has old techniques or methods.
After the failure of DES due to data breaches, it was replaced to triple DES. It is an asymmetric encryption system. It encrypts data, then decrypts it, and then again encrypts it. That is why it was named “Triple.” It helps to strengthen the original DES, which had become too weak. After the emerging of AES, Triple DES was also not much preferred.
RSA was named after the names of three scientists. It is an asymmetric encryption system. The algorithm used in RSA is robust. It uses private and public keys as it is an asymmetric method. It is essential due to the size of its keys. RSA is the oldest and most efficient method for encryption of data online.
Blowfish is also a symmetric encryption method. This encryption algorithm was invented by a computer scientist named Bruce Schneir. It was generated by the same way of generation of Triple DES. This is the modified version of DES. Yet, it is much more secure than DES and Triple DES. And there is a chance of more modification for this because it is an open domain project.
It was invented by the same scientist who invented Blowfish. That is why it is known as the successor of Blowfish. It is much faster and secure as compared to DES, Triple DES, and Blowfish. It can have keys of length 256 bits. Same as Blowfish, this is also an open domain project. Blowfish is also a part of a symmetric encryption system.
When a person sends a text message or mail to another person, it is passed to a third party, and then it is sent to the communicating party. It does not have security because the data may have been changed. But this does not happen in the case of End-to-End encryption. In this type of algorithm, data is only accessible to communicating parties. And no third party, even the ISP, can access this data. End-To-End encryption is named E2EE. Though End-To-End encryption is not entirely secure, it is still far away better than other encryption methods. One prominent example of End-To-End encryption is WhatsApp.
HTTPS, which is named as Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is used for data integrity and is used for the security of websites. Unlike End-To-End encryption, in HTTPS, data is sent to a trusted for confirmation. HTTPS is shown in your address box in the top left corner. We can get HTTPS by merely installing a browser like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.
Cloud storage encryption
One of the standard methods to encrypt/save our data is the cloud storage method. We can store our photos, videos, documents, and other sorts of data in the cloud nowadays. There are several categories for cloud storage encryption. Let’s find out what these are and explore a bit about their functionality.
In this category, we insert data that is not being used for some time being. That is why this data is known as data-at-rest.
The data which is to transfer to multiple places also needs to be secured. That is why this data is placed in the category named data-in-transit.
This is the data that is being used continuously by different applications. This data is difficult to encrypt. And is placed in the category data-in-use.
You have almost all the knowledge that is required for an efficient understanding of encryption at this point. Now, it’s up to you to use this understanding and make things easier for yourself.