Encryption is the process of converting data to an unrecognizable or “encrypted” form. This cryptographic method protects sensitive data such as credit card numbers by encoding and transforming information into unreadable ciphertext.
Encryption is one of the most important methods for providing data security, especially for end-to-end protection of data transmitted across networks. It is the most effective way to achieve data security. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it. Its key is a collection of algorithms designed to be totally unique.
These are able to scramble and unscramble data, essentially unlocking the information and turning it back to readable data. It is widely used on the internet to protect user-information being sent between a browser and a server.
Usually, the person that is encrypting the data will possess the key that locks the data and will make ‘copies’ and pass them on to relevant people that require access. This process is called public-key cryptography.
It is also used to secure data sent over wireless networks and the Internet. For example, many Wi-Fi networks are secured using WEP or much stronger WPA encryption. You must enter a password (and sometimes a username) connect to a secure Wi-Fi network, but once you are connected, all the data sent between your device and the wireless router will be encrypted.
Types of encryption
- Symmetric Key encryption: It uses the same cryptographic keys for both encryption and decryption of ciphertext. Symmetric-key systems are simpler and faster, but their main drawback is that the two parties must somehow exchange the key in a secure way. Symmetric-key cryptography is sometimes called secret-key cryptography. The most popular symmetric-key system is the Data Encryption Standard (DES).
- Public key encryption: It uses a pair of keys, one of which is a secret key and one of which is public. Different keys are used for encryption and decryption. This is a property that sets this scheme different than the asymmetric scheme.
How encryption works
It is based on the ancient art of cryptography that uses computers and algorithms to turn plain text into unreadable, jumbled code. To decrypt that ciphertext into plaintext, you need the key, a series of bits that decode the text. The key is something only you or the intended recipient has in their possession.
This process generates ciphertext that can only be viewed in its original form if decrypted with the correct key. You might have heard of end-to-end encryption, perhaps you’ve received a notification on WhatsApp saying that they now support this type of encryption.
It refers to the process of encoding and scrambling some information so only the sender and receiver can see it. With end-to-end encryption, however, only the sender and recipient are able to unlock and read the information.