Encryption has been a trusted and effective way to provide security to any sensitive information. Historically, it was first used by the militaries and the governments. In modern times, encryption is generally used to protect data stored on computers and other storage devices and transit over the networks. Even the messages you send on WhatsApp are encrypted.
If you’re new to the world of data security, here is a complete guide on encryption that will answer all your queries. Stay glued.
What is Encryption?
Encryption is how information is converted into a secret code that generally hides the true form, making it uncrackable for hackers. The science of encrypting and decrypting information is known as cryptography. In computing, unencrypted data is known as plaintext, while encrypted data is known as ciphertext.
The formulas used to encode and decode the messages are known as encryption algorithms or ciphers. For being more effective, a cipher generally includes a variable that is part of the algorithm. The variable, which is known as a key, generally makes a cipher's output unique.
When an unauthorized person precludes an encrypted message, the intruder has to guess which cipher the sender has used to encrypt the message and the keys used as the variables. The time and the difficulty of guessing this type of information make encryption a valuable security tool for people.
How does the Encryption System Work?
At the beginning of an encryption process, the sender should always decide what kind of cipher will be the best disguise to the message's meaning and what variable to be used as a key to making the encoded message very unique. The most widely used types of ciphers generally fall into two categories: They are symmetric and asymmetric.
Symmetric ciphers, also known as secret key encryption, generally use a single key. The key is generally referred to as a shared secret. The sender or the computing system doing this type of encryption must share the secret key with all authorized elements to decrypt the message.
Symmetric key encryption is generally much faster than asymmetric encryption. The most widely used and advanced symmetric key cipher is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), specially designed to protect government-classified data or information.
Asymmetric ciphers, which are also known as public-key encryption, generally use two different types of keys. This type of cryptography generally uses prime numbers to create keys. It isn't easy to factor in the large prime numbers and reverse-engineers this type of encryption.
The Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) encryption algorithm is the most widely used public-key algorithm nowadays. With the help of RSA, the public or the private key can also be used to encrypt a message.
Types of Encryption
Encryption generally plays a very important role in securing different types of information technology (IT) properties. No matter what usage you’re making, encryption will always offer the following features;
- It is confidential when it encodes the message's content.
- The authentication generally verifies the origin of a message.
- The integrity generally verifies the contents of a message that has not been changed since it was sent from the sender.
- The nonrepudiation feature prevents the senders from denying they sent the encrypted message.
Now have a look at the different types of encryption.
Bringing Your Encryption (BYOE)
It is a cloud computing security model that generally enables cloud service customers to use their encryption software and manage their encryption keys.
BYOE can also be referred to as bring your key (BYOK). BYOE generally works by enabling the customers to deploy a virtualized instance of their encryption software used alongside the business application they are hosting in the cloud.
Cloud storage Encryption
It is a security service feature offered by the cloud storage providers in data or text, which is generally transformed using encryption algorithms. Then they are placed in cloud storage.
Cloud encryption is almost identical to in-house encryption with a very important difference, i.e., The cloud customer should take time to learn about the provider's policies and various procedures for the encryption and encryption key management to match the encryption with the level of the sensitivity of the data that is being stored.
Column-level encryption is an approach used to database encryption. Every cell in a particular column has the same password for its access, reading, and writing purposes.
It is generally a type of cryptography used when an encrypted text is decrypted in two or more ways, depending on which decryption key is generally used. Deniable encryption is sometimes used for misinformation purposes when the sender anticipates or even encourages the interception of a communication.
Encryption as a Service (EaaS) is generally a subscription model which enables cloud service customers to take advantage of the security that encryption offers.
This approach usually provides the customers who lack the resources to manage the encryption themselves to address the regulatory compliance and the concerns and protect data in a multi-tenant environment. Cloud encryption usually offers full-disk encryption (FDE), database encryption, or file encryption.
End-to-end Encryption (E2EE)
It usually guarantees the data is being sent between the two parties. It cannot be viewed by an attacker who intercepts the communication between the channels. The use of an encrypted communication circuit provided by Transport Layer Security (TLS) between the web client and the webserver software is not always enough to ensure E2EE.
The actual content here being transmitted is usually encrypted by the client software before being passed to a web client and then decrypted only by the recipient. Messaging apps that provide E2EE include Facebook's WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems' Signal. Facebook Messenger users may also get E2EE messaging options with the Secret Conversations option.
Field-level encryption is the capacity to encrypt data in any specific field on a webpage. Various examples of the fields that can be encrypted are:
- Credit card numbers.
- Social security numbers.
- Bank account numbers.
- Health-related information.
- Wages as well as any financial data.
Once a field is chosen, all the data in that field will be automatically encrypted by themselves.
FDE is the encryption at the hardware level. FDE generally works by automatically converting the data on a hard drive into a form that cannot be understood by anyone who doesn't have the key to undoing the conversion.
Without the proper authentication key, even if the hard drive is removed and placed in another machine, the data can remain inaccessible. FDE can be installed on a computing device at the time of manufacturing. It can also be added later on by installing a special software driver on the computer.
It converts data into a ciphertext that can be analyzed and worked with as if it is still in its original form. This encryption method generally enables complex mathematical operations to be performed on the encrypted data without compromising the encryption strength.
HTTPS generally enables website encryption by running the HTTP over the TLS protocol. A public-key certificate must be installed on the computer to enable a web server to encrypt all the contents that it generally sends.
Link-level encryption generally encrypts data when it leaves the host and decrypts it at the next link, which can be a host or a relay point. It then encrypts it before sending it to the next link. Each link generally uses a very different key or even a different algorithm for data encryption. The process is usually repeated until the data reaches the recipient.
It generally adds crypto services at the network transfer layer, which is generally above the data link level. Still, it is always below the application level. Network encryption is generally implemented through Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), a set of open Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards that can be used in conjunction to create a framework for private communication over various IP networks.
It generally depends on the quantum mechanical properties of particles to protect the data. Its location and its momentum cannot be measured without changing the values of those properties.
Here the quantum-encoded data cannot be copied because any experiment to access the encoded data will change the data. Likewise, any attempt to copy or access the data will also cause a change in the data, thus thereby notifying the authorized parties of the encryption when an attack has occurred.
An encryption backdoor is a way to get around a system's authentication or encryption. All the Governments and law enforcement officials worldwide, particularly in the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance, continue to push for encryption backdoors. It is necessary for the interests of national safety and security as criminals and terrorists increasingly communicate via many encrypted online services.
Advantages of Encryption
The primary purpose of data encryption is to protect the confidentiality of the digital data stored on computer systems or transmitted over the internet or any other computer network.
In addition to the security they provide, the adoption of data encryption is usually driven by the need to meet compliance regulations. Many organizations and standards bodies either recommend or generally require sensitive data to be encrypted to prevent unauthorized third parties or any threat actors from accessing the data.
Disadvantages of Encryption
While encryption is designed to keep unauthorized entities from understanding the data they have acquired, in many situations, the encryption can also keep the data's owner from being able to access the data.
Key management is one of the biggest challenges of building an enterprise encryption strategy. The keys to decrypt the ciphertext usually have to be living somewhere in the atmosphere. The attackers generally have a pretty reasonable idea of where to look for them.
There are a large number of best practices for encryption key management. The key management also adds some extra layers of complexity to the backup and data restoration process.
Suppose a major disaster should strike the company or the individual. In that case, retrieving the keys and adding them to a new backup server could always increase the time needed to get started with the recovery process.
Having a key management system in place isn't enough as well. The administrators should come up with a comprehensive plan for the protection of the key management system.
This means backing it up separately from everything else and storing those backups in a way that makes it very easy to retrieve the keys in a large-scale disaster.
It was not until the mid-1970s that data encryption took a major leap forward. Until this point, all the encryption schemes that were utilized generally used the same secret for encrypting and decrypting a message, i.e., asymmetric key.
Encryption was generally used only by governments and large enterprises until the late 1970s, when the Diffie-Hellman key exchange and the RSA algorithms were first published. The first PCs were introduced to the world, which gradually ensured the usage of encryption on a large scale. Even trusted VPN service providers like VPN Surf use data encryption while setting up the virtual connection. Hopefully, you’ve got a clear overview now on encryption. Stay connected for more guides.
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