Encryption has been a trusted and effective way to secure sensitive information. Historically, it was first used by the militaries and 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.
What is Encryption? [Definition]
Here is the encryption definition in simple terms: Encryption is how information is converted into a secret code that generally hides its 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. A cipher generally includes a variable that is part of the algorithm to be more effective. The variable, 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.
So, what does encrypted mean? It means that when your data is turned into a non-readable format. Check What are the Different Types of Encryption?
How does the Encryption System Work?
At the beginning of an encryption process, the sender should always decide what kind of cypher will best disguise the message's meaning and what variable to use as a key to make the encoded message unique. The most widely used types of cyphers generally fall into two categories: They are symmetric and asymmetric.
Symmetric cyphers, 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 cyphers, 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-engineer 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 algorithms
An encryption algorithm (or encryption software) is a rule set that turns readable data into scrambled cipher text. These algorithms are made so that you can easily turn it back to the readable format with the right decryption key. There are multiple encryption algorithms out there, some stronger than others.
1. Data Encryption Standard (DES)
This is one of the low-level encryption algorithms which the US government established in 1977. Due to technological advancements, this algorithm is no longer used for protecting sensitive data.
2. Triple DES
As the name suggests, this is an improved version of the DES, which encrypts, decrypts, and encrypts the data three times. While this algorithm is stronger than DES, it is considered too weak to protect sensitive data.
RSA is one of the popular encryption algorithms in use today. Due to RSA key length, it is widely used for securing data.
4. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
AES was established in 2002 and has been used since then as one of the main encryption algorithms worldwide. This encryption algorithm is used on all SSL certifications.
TwoFish is considered one of the fastest encryption algorithms and is free. It's primarily used in hardware and software.
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.
- Authentication generally verifies the origin of a message.
- 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.
1. Bringing Your Encryption (BYOE)
A cloud computing security model 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.
2. Cloud storage Encryption
It is a security service feature offered by 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 sensitivity level of the data being stored.
Column-level encryption is an approach used for database encryption. Every cell in a particular column has the same password for access, reading, and writing purposes.
3. Deniable encryption
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 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 that enables cloud service customers to take advantage of encryption's security.
This approach usually provides the customers who lack the resources to manage the encryption themselves to address regulatory compliance and concerns and protect data in a multi-tenant environment. Cloud encryption offers full-disk encryption (FDE), database, or file encryption.
4. 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. 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 transmitted content 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 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. For example, The social security number decoder will use the same encryption technique.
5. Full-disk encryption (FDE)
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.
The data can remain inaccessible without the proper authentication key even if the hard drive is removed and placed on another machine. FDE can be installed on a computing device at the time of manufacturing. It can also be added later by installing a special software driver on the computer.
6. Homomorphic Encryption
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 on the encrypted data without compromising the encryption strength.
HTTPS generally enables website encryption by running the HTTP over the TLS protocol. How does HTTPS work? A public-key certificate must be installed on the computer to enable a web server to encrypt all the contents 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.
7. Network-level Encryption
It generally adds crypto services at the network transfer layer 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.
8. Quantum Cryptography
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 data will also cause a change in the data, thus notifying the authorized parties of the encryption when an attack has occurred.
9. Encryption Backdoors
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, adopting data encryption is usually driven by the need to meet compliance regulations. Many organizations and standards bodies recommend or generally require sensitive data to be encrypted to prevent unauthorized third parties or threat actors from accessing the data.
How does encryption protect your data? When you are working on the internet, a lot of personal data is transferred between you and the web. With encryption, all the data from you to any website on the internet will be sent as ciphertext. All your bank details, personal information, and passwords will be encrypted. Even if it is intercepted, it will not make sense without the decryption tools if you have a question about the goals of using a disguise on the internet: to protect your data.
Disadvantages of Encryption
While encryption is designed to keep unauthorized entities from understanding the data they have acquired, in many situations, 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 live 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 increase the time needed to start the recovery process.
Having a key management system in place isn't enough, 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., an 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 of encryption. Stay connected for more guides.
Frequently Asked Question
1. What does symmetric encryption mean?
Symmetric encryption is a type of encryption where only one key (a secret key) is used to both encrypt and decrypt electronic data.
2. What is encrypted mean?
The process of converting information or data into an unreadable format, especially to prevent unauthorized access to the data.
3. What does decrypt mean?
Decryption means the process of turning the cipher text (unreadable data) into a readable format using encryption algorithms.
4. What is a cipher?
A cipher is a message written in a secret code.
5. When should you not use encryption?
You should always use encryption if you planning on sending data over the internet.
6. How do you tell if my phone is encrypted?
In iPhones, data encryption happens automatically when you set a pin to the phone. Depending on the phone, the data could be encrypted by default with Android. To check, go to Settings > Security and you'll see the Encrypt Phone option.
7. What phones Cannot be tracked?
The only type of phone (or OS) that cannot be tracked is the KalOS.
People also read:
- Tips on Securing Your Credit Cards
- How to Unblock Websites & Access Restricted Content
- How to use a VPN?
- What is an SSID, and How to Find Yours
Do you value your privacy online?
Use VPN Surf and surf safely and securely in the open waters of the internet.