What is Encryption? How Does It Work?

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what is encryption

In simple terms, encryption is a way to conceal information by altering it so that it appears to be random data. Due to this, users can only decipher the random data through a key. It protects the personal data and information that you send, receive, and store using a device. This data can be from your messages, emails, banking information, internet history, etc.

In today’s world, businesses and even individuals need a sophisticated level of encryption to protect their data. It has become essential for protecting your data and security on the Internet.

How does it protect your data? How does it work?

One way encryption works is by converting the data sent when sending messages into a secret code. Due to which the only way to decipher this code is by using a key that only the sender and receiver have. This method of encrypting and decrypting information is called cryptography.

During encryption, the original data, which is in plaintext format, is converted into ciphertext. Only authorized parties will be able to decode the data with formulas called encryption algorithms, keys, or ciphers.

Types of encryption

To encrypt and decrypt data, a cipher must be decided beforehand. The most widely used ciphers fall into two categories: symmetric and asymmetric.

Symmetric encryption

Symmetric encryption uses the same keys for encrypting and decrypting the information. Both parties must have the same key for this to work. Compared to asymmetric, it is usually much faster. The most widely used symmetric method is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The AES was designed to protect government-classified information. End-to-end encryption also falls into this category.

Commonly used symmetric algorithms include:

  • AES
  • 3-DES
  • SNOW

Asymmetric encryption

This method is slightly different as it uses two different encryption keys. One key encrypts the information while the other decrypts the information. Due to this, only the receiving party can interpret the information with the decryption key. The most widely used asymmetric method is Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) algorithm.

Commonly used asymmetric algorithms include:

  • RSA
  • Elliptic curve cryptography

Hashing

There’s another method called hashing that makes blocking mining for cryptocurrencies possible. It also helps in password verification and identification of the sender and receiver.

Conclusion

Nowadays, encryption processes use a symmetric algorithm to encrypt data and an asymmetric algorithm to exchange the secret key securely. Various variations of these processes provide different applications of encryption. Therefore to ensure that our information is secure, we should move forward and incorporate as many of these methods as possible.

Make sure to check out our other explainers to learn about all the latest tech terminologies.

Nalin Rawat

Nalin Rawat

Just a big nerd for everything pop culture and geeky. In love with movies, comics, games, and awesome new gadgets. I have been writing about technology and gaming since college.
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