What Is Data Encryption? Everything You Should Know

By Haseeb Awan

Data encryption is a useful and successful security approach that is an excellent alternative for securing a company's data. Additionally, there are multiple ways to encrypt data, and choosing the technique that suits you the best is not simple—wondering how to choose? Read along.

What Is Data Encryption?

Data encryption means transferring data from a readable form to a cryptic format to save its integrity and security. It keeps inquisitive eyes from accessing sensitive information while it is in transmission. Encryption can be used to protect data, including photos, videos, messages, emails, files, folders, and any other type of network communication.

Encryption is a critical tool for protecting the security of our data, and its importance cannot be emphasized. Everything we view on the web, whether webpages or apps, has gone through some level of encryption.

Given the increased threat of online crime today, every individual and group who utilizes the internet must be acquainted with and employ basic encryption measures.

Types of Data Encryption

There are many types of data encryption. However, most internet security experts divide data encryption into three types: hashing, symmetric, and asymmetric. They are further subdivided into many categories.

Symmetric

This approach, also known as secret key algorithm or private-key cryptography, necessitates the transmitter and recipient having access to the same key for encryption and decryption. As a result, the recipient must hold the key before the communication can be encrypted. However, it is essential to keep the key safe. Closed systems with a low danger of third-party invasion perform best with this strategy. It is also faster than asymmetric encryption.

Asymmetric

This approach, also known as public-key cryptography, encrypts data using logically connected private and public keys. One key is used to encrypt the data, and the other is used for decrypting it. The public key is available freely to everybody, while the private key is only accessible to the targeted receivers, which require it to interpret the data. Both keys are just huge numbers that are not similar but are coupled with one another, hence the "asymmetric" aspect.

Hashing

Hashing creates a fixed-length distinctive signature for a data set or communication. Each communication has its own hash, allowing minor adjustments to the data to be easily tracked. Data that hashing encrypts cannot be decrypted or reverted back to its readable form. As a result, hashing is only utilized as a data verification mechanism. Although many IS experts do not regard hashing as real encryption technology, the distinction is sufficiently vague to allow the category to stand. Ultimately, it's an excellent approach to demonstrate that the data hasn't been tampered with.

How Does Data Encryption Work?

Plaintext or cleartext refers to readable data that requires encryption for protection. It is sent through specific encryption techniques to render data unintelligible to intruders. There are various encryption methods, each with its own applicability and security rating.

Aside from the algorithms, encrypting the data also needs an encryption key. The plaintext is encrypted using this key and an appropriate encryption technique known as ciphertext. The ciphertext is sent to the recipient via insecure communication channels rather than the plaintext.

Once the recipient receives the ciphertext, a decryption key is used to return it to plaintext. Keeping this key secret is the only way to ensure hackers cannot view or abuse your data.

Importance of Data Encryption

Data encryption is essential, and here are the convincing reasons why:

Authenticity

Data encryption establishes that the source server of a website possessed the secret key and was therefore lawfully granted an SSL certificate. It is necessary to separate legit websites from so many bogus websites.

Security

Data encryption secures information from security breaches. Regardless of the state of the data, i.e., in transit or at rest, encryption ensures it from cyber-attacks. So, if your device is lost, stolen, or damaged, data encryption will keep your data intact. It also protects data from eavesdropping and MITM attacks and allows sender and receiver to communicate without the anxiety of data leakage.

Privacy

Data encryption ensures that only the intended receiver or sender can view or read the data. This safeguard stops cybercriminals, hackers, ISPs, spammers, and even federal agencies from seeing and analyzing personal information.

Also, Read Android Privacy Tips.

Compliance

Many sectors and government agencies require firms that operate with people's personal data to encrypt it. GDPR,  HIPAA, and PCI-DSS are a few examples of regulatory and legal guidelines that mandate data encryption.

Top 5 Data Encryption Algorithms

Below we have discussed the top five data encryption algorithms.

Advanced Encryption Standard

AES is a well-known encryption technique utilized by the federal government and other agencies. AES algorithm uses 192-256- bit keys. Except for brute force, AES is considered impregnable to all attacks. As a result, mani IS specialists trust it when it comes to data encryption.

Blowfish Encryption Standard

Another data encryption algorithm meant to substitute DES is Blowfish. This symmetric tool decrypts data by breaking them down into 64-bit blocks. Blowfish has a notoriety for being quick, adaptable, and indestructible. It is also free because it is in the public domain, which adds to its allure. Blowfish is widely used in e-commerce sites, payment security, and password management software.

RSA Encryption Standard

RSA falls in asymmetric type and uses a public-key encryption method to encrypt data sent over the web. Since RSA encryption generates a large amount of junk, it confuses hackers, forcing them to spend much time and energy trying to break into networks.

Triple Data Encryption Standard

Triple DES is the sequel to the initial DES algorithm, which was developed in reaction to DES's compromised by hackers. It falls in the symmetric encryption type, previously the industry's most extensively used symmetric technique, but is now being retired. TripleDES encrypts UNIX credentials and ATM PINs by repeating the DES algorithm 3 times on each data block.

Twofish Encryption Standard

This data encryption algorithm is Blowfish's successor. It also uses symmetric encryption that decrypts 128-bit data blocks without requiring a license. Furthermore, regardless of the key size, it encrypts data in 16 rounds. Twofish is among the fastest of its kind and is suitable for hardware and software contexts. This mechanism is used by many of today's folder and file encryption software.

Conclusion

Although data encryption may appear a difficult and time-consuming process. However, it is super essential for data backup and recovery. You should continually educate and train your staff about data encryption types and algorithms. However, it does not have to be a problem that your company tackles on its own. You can get data encryption software to cater to your data encryption needs.

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