Although security does end up being an afterthought for a large number of computer users, it is a key element for organizations of any scale. You have to give it the attention it deserves because according to many reports, security violations cost businesses millions every year. Even if you do not possess much to lose, it should be a top priority to safeguard even what you have. Several types of protection technologies are available, but encryption of data in transit and during storage is something that all internet users must be aware of.
How does Encryption work?
Encryption is a mechanism that encrypts a document or file so that it can only be read by specific individuals with the right key. Encryption employs different algorithms to encode your data. It is then sent to the intended person, who can use a key to decipher the message. There are several forms of algorithms, all of which include various ways of encoding and then decoding data. Mainly, there are two types of encryption as discussed below:
This method uses one key to encode and decrypt information. The use of one key for these two processes makes it a simple procedure and is therefore referred to as “symmetric.”
The simplicity of its cycle is by far the most unique feature of symmetric encryption. The ease of this type of encoding lies in the use of only one key for both scrambling and decoding the data. Consequently, algorithms for symmetric encryption:
- Are basically faster than their asymmetric encryption counterparts
- Need less computing power, and
- Aim not to hose web speed
Asymmetric encryption uses a couple of keys for encoding and decrypting the information. Two independent encryption keys that are mathematically associated with each other are enveloped by asymmetric encryption. One key is the “public key” and another is the “private key.” Thus, the asymmetric encryption technique is often referred to as “public-key cryptography.”
Top 5 encryption algorithms
As now, you have become familiar with encryption and its type, check out the top five encryption algorithms to select the best one:
RSA is by far the most frequently employed algorithm for asymmetric encryption. Its strength lies in the process of “prime factorization” that it depends on. Basically, two big arbitrary prime numbers are involved in this process, and these integers are multiplied to produce another huge number. Determining the actual prime numbers from this multiplied big-sized number is the challenge here.
A significant benefit that RSA provides is its scalability. It comes with different key sizes for encryption. Though the shorter key size is easily brute-forced, you can leverage larger key size encryption since the complexity of brute-forcing the key rises with the increase in key lengths.
RSA is built on a basic mathematical method, which is why it is simple and clear to use it in the public key infrastructure (PKI). This flexibility with PKI and its protection has made RSA the most frequently used algorithm for asymmetric encryption used nowadays. RSA is being used widely in several apps, including SSL/TLS licenses, crypto-currencies, and email encoding.
In 1985, the utilization of elliptic curves in cryptography was introduced by two mathematicians. Their concept became a reality after about 20 years when the ECC (Elliptic Curve Cryptography) algorithm went into use in 2004-05. An elliptic curve symbolizes the set of points that fulfill a mathematical equation (y2 = x3 + ax + b) in the ECC encryption method.
ECC, like RSA, also operates on the theory of irreversibility. It is straightforward to calculate it in one way, but extremely hard to reverse it and get to the actual point. In the ECC, another integer is multiplied by a number representing a position on the curve and provides a new value on the curve. Therefore you need to find out the new point on the arc to solve this enigma.
As opposed to RSA, ECC provides greater protection (against existing cracking techniques) as it is very complicated. It offers an equal degree of safety as RSA, but it employs far shorter key sizes. As a consequence, ECC implemented with keys of longer lengths would take substantially more time to break utilizing brute force attacks.
DES (data encryption standard) is one of the oldest symmetric encryption techniques. It was built to secure confidential, unclassified electronic government information and was officially implemented to be used by government agencies in 1977. A 56-bit encryption key is used by DES and it is built on the Feistel Structure established by a cryptographer called Horst Feistel. The DES encryption technique was between those used in TLS versions 1.0 and 1.1.
DES transforms 64-bit chunks of plaintext information into ciphertext by splitting the block into two different 32-bit blocks and performing the encryption method to each one separately. This includes 16 rounds of different steps that the data can go through while it is encoded. Eventually, 64-bit blocks of encoded text are generated as the output.
As the name suggests, 3DES (also known as TDEA, which stands for the algorithm of triple data encryption) is an improved version of the published DES method. To address the failures of the DES algorithm, 3DES was built and was put into use in the late 1990s. To do so, the DES algorithm is applied to every block of data three times. As a consequence, 3DES was much harder to break than its DES predecessor due to this procedure. It also became a commonly employed encoding algorithm in payment systems, norms, and technology in the financial sector.
One of the most widely utilized forms of encryption techniques is AES, which refers to an “advanced encryption system,” which was built as a replacement to the DES algorithm. In 2001, AES became an encryption model upon NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) acceptance.
AES is based on substitution and permutation techniques. First, the unencrypted data is converted into blocks and then encryption is applied utilizing the encoding key. The method of encryption includes numerous sub-processes, like sub-bytes, row changes, column mixes, and insert round keys. There are 10, 12, or 14 such cycles completed, based on the length of the key.
What all this comes down to is to claim that AES is the preferred one in our opinion – it being a secure, fast, and versatile encryption method. The greatest benefit you have is the different key size choices, as the longer, the keys are the tougher it is to unlock them. AES is the most used encryption technique nowadays and is employed in several apps, such as:
- Wireless safety
- Encryption of mobile applications
- Protection over Wi-Fi
- VPN (a virtual private network), etc.
- Processor protection and file encryption