What is encryption?

Sometimes, information has to be masked in a predefined way so as to shield it from unwarranted perusal by parties other than the intended recipient. In computing data encryption has become a major requirement especially among corporate bodies. Data encryption is the process of altering electronic data into a state that is unreadable to the human eye. Usually, a set of ciphers or algorithms are used to come up with it. In the traditional concept, data encryption was mostly used by governments and military agencies to transmit hypersensitive electronic data. But now data encryption has become a fundamental day – to – day undertaking for the public as well. Nowadays it is a requirement for web browsers to encrypt data by default as they connect to secure servers.

What is encryption

How encryption is used

Governments were the sole users of encryption algorithms until “Diffie-Hellman key exchange” and “RSA algorithms” came on to the scene. The broader use of encryption was initiated by the two entities above led to the widespread use of encryption in the public domain, especially in the commercial and consumer realms. They cover all electronic data while both in transit (send/receive) mode or storage (e.g. hard disk, USB, smartphones, etc.) mode. Whether the information is hacked while in storage or waylaid while in transit, the perpetrators cannot decipher whatever is on it.

Encryption may not be a huge factor on the individual computer user (especially for personal use). But for businesses it is a major priority. Most security breaches in companies stem from unauthorized access on confidential business information. The costs resulting from such breaches can be anything up to millions of dollars annually. Basically, encryption of data involves scrambling its content into a jumbled format which cannot be accessed by unauthorized parties.

Data Encryption Methods

a) Triple DES

This is the first instance of data encryption that came in to replace the customary Data Encryption Standard due to recurring breaches. Hackers had worked out methods to decode the DES encryption and it was no longer deemed to be robust. It went on to become a headliner in the security based systems development. It utilizes 3 distinct keys which are 56 bits in length. It slowly phased out with quick advancements in technology but is still very much a reference standard.

b) RSA

This is the most widely accepted standard for data encryption over the internet. It is asymmetric in nature because it uses a pair of keys; the public key and private key. It is very efficient because it takes a lot of effort for hackers to work through it. That is why asymmetric encryption is a favorite among SMEs

c) Blowfish

This one was also designed to take over from DES. It is symmetric. It splits data into a pair of 64 bit chunks and then proceeds to individually encrypt them. Its admired features include high speed and effectiveness. It is almost un-hackable. Better yet, it is free to the public. It is most popular for ecommerce sites and online payment platforms. Symmetric encryption cannot be breached easily; and even then, the hackers would need additional cypher tools to make sense of the jumbles.

d) Twofish

Twofish was created by the same person who made Blowfish. Howver only one key is required for Twofish. Naturally faster than Blowfish, Twofish is popular in both software and hardware application.

e) AES

AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. It is widely used by the U.S Government as well as other high profile organizations. To date it is regarded as the strongest encryption. It can make use of both 192 bits and 256 bits apart from the basic 128-bit standard.