5 Min Read | Sun, 29 Jan 2023
Encryption is converting plain text into cipher text or code requiring a decryption key for it to be readable.
The earliest known form of encryption dates back to ancient Egypt, where hieroglyphs were used to conceal messages. Fast forward to today, encryption has become an essential tool for protecting sensitive information in the digital world. Here’s an interesting stat - Nearly 7 million unencrypted data records are compromised daily!
Encryption has become more important with the rise of cyber threats and data breaches. Whether it’s financial data, personal information, or confidential business documents, encryption provides an added layer of security that can help safeguard against cyber attacks, crimes, and data breaches.
Read on to know what is data encryption and 10 encryption techniques for protecting your private information.
Data encryption is the process of converting any readable information like email or invoice into a non-readable format. In other words, it is a method of protecting sensitive data by converting it into code, or a combination of numbers and code, known as cipher text.
The encrypted data then can only be deciphered by using special keys provided during the encryption process. This can be applied to data in transit or storage and can be further strengthened by limiting authorization.
Primarily, there are primarily two types of data encryption - systematic and asymmetric encryption. Let’s read them in detail below.
One of the oldest and most widely used encryption techniques is symmetric encryption, where the same key/code is used to encrypt or decrypt the data.
It implies that the sender and receiver must have the same key to decode the message.
This can be considered the opposite of symmetric encryption.
This model deals with two different key types – public key and private key, wherein the public key is used for encryption, whereas the private key is used for decryption.
Asymmetric encryption is considered a more secure mode as the private key is not shared and is kept only with the receiver.
AES, or the Advanced Encryption Standard, is a widely adopted symmetric encryption algorithm that encrypts data blocks in 128, 192, and 256 bits through a series of substitutions, transpositions, and more. The number of rounds is determined by the key size, with a 256-bit key requiring 14 rounds, a 192-bit key requiring 12 rounds, and the 128-bit key requiring 10 rounds.
You can find AES in Wi-Fi security, SSL/TLS, and more. It is also interesting to note that AES secures your current connection to this website!
Triple DES, also known as 3DES, is a strong symmetric encryption method that improves on the earlier Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithm. It uses 3 individual keys, each of 56-bit length, to encrypt data. In other words, the DES algorithm is applied thrice to the data set, making it much more secure than DES. It finds employment on ATM Pin and UNIX password systems as well as in popular applications such as Microsoft Office and Mozilla Firefox.
Owing to its robust mathematical complexities, RSA is a popular asymmetric encryption algorithm. RSA is named after the three scientists who first described the algorithm: Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman
This model primarily functions on the factorization of 2 prime numbers. RSA is widely used to secure online transactions, such as online banking and e-commerce, but it is also relatively slow compared to other encryption methods and may not be employable on large databases.
This encryption technique involves breaking down data into 64 bits and encrypting them. It is known as a fast and reliable mode of encryption and is available in the public domain for use. It primarily finds employment in embedded and password systems and email.
This is a widely employed data encryption technique for email security and sharing encrypting files. It allows users who have never interacted to send files across without exchanging keys.
Considered an advanced version of blowfish, Twofish deals with data blocks of 128 bits. This systematic method encrypts data in 16 rounds, no matter the size or volume of the information. Twofish is popularly used for folder and file encryption.
This is a type of public key cryptography that is based on elliptic curves. It is relatively new when compared to other public key algorithms like RSA and finds its uses in many industries and secure communication protocols like SSL/TLS, VPNs, etc.
This type of encryption is used when the data needs to be encrypted, but the data format is to be maintained for compatibility with different systems and processes. In simpler terms, this encryption ensures that the data’s length, character set, and format remain unchanged. A good example here would be a credit card. If the card has 8 numbers, the encrypted data will also have 8 characters.
International Data Encryption Algorithm or IDEA uses 128 bit key to encrypt data. It typically encrypts data in 64 bit blocks, implying it takes 64 bit of plain text and turns it into 64 bits of ciphertext data.
This encryption technique is used across industries like financial services, broadcasting, and more.
As the name suggests, S/MIME is based around email systems, wherein digitally signed or encrypted messages can be shared. The encryption protects the contents of the mail, whereas the digital signature verifies the individual’s identity.
In the vast digital world, it is imperative to protect your data. You can do so by encrypting all your sensitive data and business information.
Employ any of the encryption methods mentioned above to ensure you remain safe from phishing and cyber-attacks. Understand your needs and design an appropriate encryption strategy.
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