What Is Encryption? How It Works, Types, and Benefits

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Written By Nidhi Sharma

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Encryption is the process of converting text or data into encrypted information, called ciphertext. It uses a predetermined algorithm or code so that anyone who knows the code can decode the encryption to reveal the original data. This article explains encryption and how it works. This article explains encryption in detail and explains how they interact to create a trustworthy and secure Internet.

What is Encryption?

One or more of the mathematical techniques called cryptography is used to encrypt digital data. Encryption makes the input information unreadable. An algorithm converts plaintext into a different form called ciphertext.

A binary key or password can be used to decrypt data when an authorized user requires access. This converts ciphertext to plaintext, so the user can access the original data.

Individuals and businesses can protect sensitive information against hacking by using encryption. Websites that transmit bank account numbers and credit card numbers to identity theft prevent this from happening.

Key Points

  • Cryptography is used to encrypt digital data. It involves coding it mathematically using cryptography, so it can only be read or decrypted by the right key or password.
  • Digital encryption is an algorithm that renders the original information unreadable.
  • In a digitally connected world, encryption is essential to protect private information, messages, and financial transactions.

How Encryption Works

The length of the encryption security keys determines how strong the encryption is. Web developers used 40-bit encryption in the 20th century. This is a key that has 2 40 possible permutations. 56-bit encryption was also available.

Hackers had broken those keys by the end of the century. This led to the 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), encryption length for web browsers. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology created the key lengths of 128, 192, and 256 bits in 2001.

Different Types of Encryption

Asymmetric Encryption

Asymmetric cryptography can be used when security is more important than speed or identity verification is necessary. This encryption is used to sign online documents and authorize cryptocurrency transactions.

Asymmetric-key algorithms use different keys for decryption and encryption. There are two types of asymmetric encryption: RSA and PKI.
RSA is a well-known algorithm that enables data to be encrypted with a public key and then decrypted with a private key. This allows data transmission to be secure. 2 RSA is a popular algorithm that encrypts data with a public key and decrypts it using a private key for secure data transmission.

Symmetric Encryption

Symmetric encryption can be used when speed is more important than security. It uses one secret key, which is a symmetric key that encrypts and decrypts the plaintext. This encryption is used frequently in credit card transactions.

The Benefits of Encryption

Encryption is used to protect the confidentiality of digital data that is stored on computers or transmitted over the Internet. Public cloud security is important for organizations that rely on multi-cloud environments.

While cloud service providers are responsible to secure the cloud, customers are responsible for data security and privacy. While sensitive data within an organization must be secured, authorized users should still be able to use the cloud for their jobs. Not only should this protect data, but also offer robust encryption key management, access control, and audit logging capabilities.

Both consumers and businesses benefit from encryption. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard ( PCI DSS ) requires that merchants encrypt customers' payment card data whenever it is stored or transmitted over public networks.

What is The Difference Between a Public Key And a Private Key In Encryption?

Asymmetric encryption cryptography uses one public key and one private key to encrypt or decrypt data. While the public key may be shared openly, the private keys are only available to the owner. This method allows a person to encrypt a message with the receiver's public keys, but can only be decrypted by the receiver using their private keys.

What is Hashing in Cryptography?

Hashing functions are essential for cybersecurity and certain cryptocurrency protocols like Bitcoin. Hashing is a way to convert any data into a unique string or text. This is a mathematical operation that is simple to perform but hard to reverse. In the context of passwords, an average user will encounter hashing every day. The email provider doesn't save passwords when they are created. Instead, it runs the password through an algorithm that has the password and saves the hash. The email provider compares the hash of the saved hash every time there is an email sign-in. Email access is granted when the hashes match.

What is Cryptographic Failure?

A cryptographic error is a security flaw that exposes sensitive data using a weak or inexistent cryptographic algorithm. This includes passwords, patient records, business secrets, and credit card information. Email addresses are also available.

2013 was a year when hackers broke into Target Corporation's computer network and compromised the credit card information of 40 million customers. Although credit card information was encrypted by Target Corporation, hackers managed to break through it and compromise the information of up to 40 million credit cards. This breach led to an investigation by U.S. Secret Service 5.

The Bottom Line

It is vital to protect private information, financial transactions, and messages in a digital world. It ensures that digital data transmitted over the internet or stored on computers is kept confidential. There are many encryption methods available, including Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is the global standard for data encryption and the U.S. government's standard.

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