What is Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption?

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What is Encryption?

Encryption has existed for hundreds of years and is a means of securing communication between two different parties. Encryption works by substituting and rearranging letters in a message so that it cannot be understand via reading, only by using a specific key can the message be returned to normal and then read by anyone.

Types of Modern Encryption

Symmetric Key Encryption: In this form of encryption the same or identical encryption keys are used to both encrypt and decrypt information. This type of encryption can be divided into stream ciphers and block ciphers. Stream ciphers encrypt the message one bit at a time in a continuous flow, which is why it’s called a stream cipher because it is a constant stream of bits being encrypted. A block cipher will break the message up into a predetermined number of bits and encrypts them as a unit, one block at a time until the entire message is encrypted.

Asymmetric Key Encryption (Public-Key Cryptography): This form of encryption uses two different keys for encryption and decryption the message. In Asymmetric key Encryption different keys are used for encryption and decryption. The message is encrypted using a public key which is shared between both users and the message is decrypted using a private key that only the message recipient has. Public key is arguably more secure because you never have to send the decryption key over an insecure channel, your private key is kept on your personal workstation and never has to be emailed, reducing the risk of being read by attackers.

Encryption on the Web

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol is used to secure web transactions between your browser and the web servers you connect to. The web servers sends its public key to the web browser, the browser checks the certificate and the uses its public key to encrypt its public key and sends it to the web server. The web server decrypts the public key using the web server’s private key and uses its own public key to decrypt its URL and http data. The web server sends back the html document and http data encrypted using your web browsers public key and then the browser decrypts that information with its symmetric key and displays the page information.

Encryption Tips for a Business

  • If you use Wi-Fi, use Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) an encryption method for protecting wireless connections.

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when working remotely to connect to your office network.

  • Utilize built in encryption programs, windows has Microsoft BitLocker, MAC has Apple File Vault and Linux has a tool called dm-crypt.

  • Backup your computer regularly in case your encryption fails or become corrupt, your files won’t be lost forever.

  • Use third party encryption programs like VeraCrypt, DiskCryptor and Gpd4win.