Data encryption is a term that we all had heard someday, but still, we aren’t aware of it in a detailed manner. Have you ever taken time to think about what data encryption really is and how it can prove to be helpful? So, let’s start today and try to gather detailed information about it.
Let’s start with the name ‘data encryption.’ Data is nothing but information that would be there in different types. Data could simply be an email, the sensitive information that you have stored in the database, or even any media file on your laptop. Now, what is encryption? The word ‘encryption’ in English means ‘in hidden’ or we can say, ‘in hiding.’ Thus, data encryption can be stated as the process of hiding important information from the evil eyes of hackers or any malicious attacks.
The agency of encrypting the data is to make sure that it stays confidential. Also, data encryption can be stated as a part of a broader class of cyber security countermeasures, which is known as data security. The concept of data security is all about working on ensuring the safety of the data from any unauthorized access. It even focuses on shielding the data from ransomware lockup, malicious corruption, or the breach, which can cause you to lose your sensitive data and even finding it useless.
What it looks like when the data encryption fails?
The modern encryption techniques have been making it extremely difficult for the attackers to see the encrypted confidential information. But sadly, even data encryption is not 100% safe. The data encryption depends on the keys, which are nothing hut ling strings of numbers that enable the mathematical encryption algorithm to encrypt the data. These keys come in pair, out of which one is for the sender, and the other one is for the receiver.
It is actually possible for hackers to figure out the keys. Once the hacker gets access to the keys, he can easily use it to conduct the decryption and steal the data. This particular process is known as brute-forcing, in which the hacker tends to use a powerful computer for guessing the numbers in the key. Thus, we can say that the longer the key, it would be harder to use the brute force attack to find out the key. In case the key is short as if it is of 3 words, it would be easier to crack it as there will be 999 options before the key is figured out. A 128-bit key, which is the standard in the recent encryption practices, needs more than 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible key combinations to crack. This seems to be impossible to all, even for the supercomputer too, but it can actually happen.
Data encryption solutions
When you want to know about the data encryption solutions, it is important that you should be aware of the two kinds of encryption solutions. These include for data at rest and the other ones for data in transit. You never know if the hacker might work on trying to get access to the data that you have stored on your devices (at rest) or the data which you are sending to someone in the form of messages (in transit). The data in transit could be any like an email, or it can also be an internal system to system message, which includes data that is transferred through a network.
Different encryption solutions are available for data at rest as well as for the data in transit. Systematically, each kind of solution has its own impact on the encryption. When it is about the data at rest, you have to configure any application that requires access to the encrypted data with the method to decrypt it. In the case of data in transit, it is important to arrange for both the sender and receiver to have the capabilities for encryption and decryption. Because of these requirements, there remains the administrative burden, and things can become somewhat complex in case you have to send the encrypted messages outside your enterprise or even if you want to receive one.
Who needs to use encryption?
Most people have a misconception that only the government agencies and the businesses which have to keep their sensitive data secure only have to use data encryption. But that’s not true. Your personal information needs an equal amount of security, just as the businesses do. Whether it’s your personal credentials or financial information, hackers can try to gain access to almost everything. There’s no filtration in it. Whatever personal information that you have in your system, it can be hacked and misused by the hacker for their selfish motives. Thus, it becomes important for you to maintain complete data security and keep your data shielded.
You don’t have to be a secret agent for realizing the need for securing your data. Even the tiniest of your personal information should not be accessed by any unauthorized person. These days many technology services are making use of encryption to make sure the data remains safe when it is being used. Thus, we can say that whether it is about your business information or just the personal details, data encryption is something that you need in all the case to ensure complete protection of your information.
Data encryption algorithms
If we are getting into deeper knowledge about data encryption, then it is important to study the most common data encryption algorithms and methods. The widely used two ways of data encryption are “public key,” which is also known as asymmetric encryption and “private key,” which is known as symmetric encryption. Both these encryption methods are dependent on key pairs, but what’s different is their way of sending and receiving the keys and handling of the encryption and decryption process.
With the method of asymmetric encryption, the sender makes use of a publicly known key for conducting the encryption of the data. The receiver of the key should have the private key, which is in the pair of the key used for encrypting the data. With the help of that private key, used in combination with the public key, the person receiving the encrypted data can decrypt it. On the other hand, in the symmetric encryption, both the sender and the receiver will have the same secret key through which the data encryption and decryption could be done. Thus, we can say the complete data access depends on the key, which makes it necessary to have a lot of management overhead for storing and transmitting the secret keys for encryption and decryption.
These days, companies and government agencies have started using a number of ways to encrypt the data for securing it. Some of the encryption algorithms which are highly brought into use these days are as follows:
Triple-DES (3DES): This method can be stated as the modernization of the older Digital Encryption Standard or DES, which is known to be highly influential in securing the data through encryption. DES tends to have the 56-bit key size, which is taken to 168-bit with the algorithm known as 3DES. This is how the process of 3DES makes it harder to crack the information and get access to the data. Not only this, but it also helps in making the data more compute-intensive for handling. With this effectiveness, the encryption algorithms of 3DES are usually demanded and followed by a lot of companies to safeguard their business information.
RSA: The encryption method RSA has gained the reputation of being one of the first and most widely adopted methods of asymmetric cryptography used for securing the data in transit. This encryption algorithm was originated in the year 1977. The working of the RSA encryption algorithm depends upon a public key, which is based on two large prime numbers, provided with an additional value for encrypting the data.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): This encryption method is a type of symmetric cipher which is based on the Rijandael block cipher. This type of encryption algorithm is used in the US federal government for data safely and also in consumer technologies like in the Apple Macintosh computer.
Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC): Though this method of encryption is really very powerful, but the other fact is that it is still not understood properly. This encryption method is known to be faster and more advanced than the other comparable algorithms. This is the reason that this type of encryption method is used by the government agencies that take data security very seriously, including NASA. There is still more research and work going on this encryption method for data safety.
Data encryption is becoming a common and highly necessary aspect of cyber security, ensuring data protection to maintain its confidentiality. Though the process of data encryption needs highly sophisticated technology, the good news is that the solutions are becoming very convenient and easy to use these days. Whether it is for your business information, your personal laptop, or mobile phone, data encryption can be considered a must for all to make sure the data stays safe from any hackers’ prying eyes.