What Is Encryption? Everything You Should Know About It

Haseeb Awan
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October 18, 2022
Modified On
April 5, 2023

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Modified On
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Data encryption is converting text or other data into unreadable code that can only be decrypted and read by someone with access to a secret key. It is currently one of the most effective and widely used methods of ensuring data security. Many of the websites, apps, and devices you use daily likely use encryption in some form or another without your knowledge.

Many of us have heard the term "encryption," but what does it mean? Simply put, encryption is the encoding of information. It is used by various online services to keep your data secure, including text messages and emails, banking information, cloud files, and more.

Information transmitted or stored on a system remains private and confidential because encryption makes it impossible for an unauthorized party to read it. Unauthorized parties will only see an unorganized assembly of bytes. Furthermore, since some algorithms offer a defence against forgery and tampering, encryption technology can guarantee the integrity of the data. The encryption and decryption keys must be managed appropriately by authorized parties for the technology to protect the information.

Data Encryption Types

Data encryption comes in many different forms. However, symmetric, asymmetric, and hashing data encryption are the three main categories used by internet security experts. They are divided up even further into numerous categories.

Symmetric Encryption

The transmitter and recipient must access the same key for encryption and decryption to use this method, also known as the private-key cryptography or secret key algorithm. As a result, to encrypt the communication, the recipient must possess the key. The key must, however, be kept secure. This technique works best with closed systems with little risk of intrusion from outside sources. In addition, it is quicker than asymmetric encryption.

Disadvantages Of Symmetric Encryption Technique

Its primary drawback is symmetric encryption's single, secret cryptographic key used for both encryption and decryption of data. The other issue with symmetric encryption is that it isn't as effective at securing data as asymmetric encryption though it is faster. Asymmetric encryption trades being more secure for speed.

Asymmetric Encryption

Data is encrypted using logically connected private and public keys, also known as public-key cryptography. Data is encrypted using one key and decrypted using another key. While the private key can only be accessed by the targeted receivers who need it to decipher the data, the public key is freely available to the public. This type is called asymmetric becuase both keys are merely enormous numbers coupled with one another rather than being similar.

Disadvantages Of Asymmetric Encryption Technique

The main weakness of asymmetric encryption is that when compared with symmetric encryption, it is relatively slower because the key lengths are longer. Additionally, the mathematical calculations required for asymmetric encryption are often much more complex than those needed for symmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption, on the other hand, is faster. Even though security is paramount with symmetric encryption, speed takes a backseat to security with asymmetrical encryption.

This is certainly not to suggest that symmetric encryption is unsafe. However, the very nature of asymmetric encryption removes several information security risks still present in improperly maintained symmetric encryption cryptosystems.

Hashing Encryption

A communication or data set can be hashed to produce a fixed-length recognizable signature. With a unique hash for each communication, even small data changes can be easily tracked. Hashing creates encrypted data that cannot be unlocked or converted back to readable form. So far, hashing has only been used as a data verification method. Even though many IS specialists do not consider hashing to be true encryption technology, the line between the two is sufficiently blurred to allow the category to stand. Ultimately, it's an excellent strategy for showing that the information hasn't been modified.

Disadvantages Of Hashing Encryption Technique

Hashing is a one-way encryption technique, meaning that once data has been encrypted, it cannot be decrypted. This can be problematic if users forget their passwords, as there would be no way to decrypt the data and regain access. Hashing algorithms are also susceptible to collision attacks, where two different pieces of data produce the same hash. This can lead to data corruption or security breaches if not properly addressed. Lastly, hashing algorithms can be computationally intensive, slowing down system performance. This is often a trade-off that must be made to maintain security.

Different Encryption Techniques Combination

As was already mentioned, every encryption technique has some weaknesses. However, combining these techniques creates a solid and effective encryption system.

The secret and public key techniques are frequently combined and used in combination. The secret key method enables fast decryption, whereas the public key method provides a more secure and simple private key transfer.

The "digital envelope" is the name of this combination of methods. The "digital envelope" technique is used in the PGP email encryption program. Hashing discovers the application as a method of evaluating the password's reliability. The system will be more secure if it stores a hash of the password rather than the actual password because even if a hacker gets his hands on the hash, he will not be able to decipher (read) it.

The system will verify the hash of the input password during the check to see if the result matches what was previously stored. Thus, the chance of the actual password slipping through the cracks will be significantly reduced because it will only be briefly visible when the password is changed or checked.

Data authentication using a private key is another application of hashing. The data and this key are used to create the hash. The key itself is not transmitted, leaving only the data and the hash visible. As a result, any modifications to the data or hash will be quickly recognized.

In the end, these techniques can be employed to encrypt data so that it is unreadable and secure effectively. Most current systems combine these encryption techniques with robust algorithm implementations to increase security.

These systems offer other advantages besides security, like confirming a user's identity and guaranteeing that the received data cannot be messed with.

Tokenization Versus Encryption

The differences between encryption and tokenization, two related data protection technologies, have become more evident.

Tokenization, as it is commonly known, is a type of format-preserving data protection that replaces specific sensitive values with tokens or similar-looking but different values. Data protection is typically the goal of encryption. Encryption is a common term for data protection that involves converting data—one or even more values or entire data sets—into gibberish with a very different appearance from the original.

Different technologies may be used for tokenization. Format-preserving encryption, like NIST FF1-mode AES, is used in some versions. Other versions generate random values and store the original data and the corresponding token in a secure token vault. Still, other versions create tokens using a set of random data that has already been generated. Given the definition of encryption given above, tokenization of any kind is unquestionably a type of encryption; the distinction is the format-preserving property of tokenization.

Encryption of Data: Its Importance

Encryption is critical for any business that wants to protect their sensitive information. Encryption converts data into ciphertext, which can only be deciphered with an encryption key. It is known as "encoding" to do this. Because only those possessing an encryption key can decode the data and reveal the basic information, encryption makes it almost impossible for malicious hackers or other unauthorized parties to hack and misuse the data.

Because data breaches happen to even the largest corporations with the highest cybersecurity budgets, the significance of encryption could be overstated. There is a possibility that your information could be compromised even if it is in a protected infrastructure. Even though they were stolen, data encryption could make your files much more indecipherable.

So, how might this operate in practice? Imagine that a user of a company's data sent some private documents via email, which is typically not encrypted in any way whatsoever. Because hackers may exploit these emails and obtain access to private information, this data is put at risk.

However, even if the data were intercepted and stolen, the cyber attacker would not be able to access the data because it would be in an unreadable format if the user used an encrypted file-sharing solution instead. The information would need to be successfully decrypted for anyone without the encryption key to access it.

Different Encryption Algorithm

Different encryption algorithms are available, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Some of the more popular algorithms include:

-AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 

AES is a symmetric key algorithm that individuals and organizations widely use to protect their data. AES is considered to be very secure and has been adopted by the US government for use in classified data.


Blowfish is a symmetric key algorithm that is designed to be very secure. Blowfish has a variable key size, making it more secure than other algorithms.

-DES (Data Encryption Standard)

A symmetric key algorithm that was once the standard for data encryption. DES is no longer considered very secure due to its relatively small key size.

-RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman)

RSA is an asymmetric key algorithm used for encryption and decryption. RSA is often used with other algorithms to provide additional security.

Data Encryption Benefits

Data encryption has a variety of advantages, including the following:

  • Assists with compliance: Certain laws and market standards specifically call for encryption. Robust encryption can show auditors that the organization is doing a good job of protecting sensitive data.
  • Provides privacy: Data encryption is advantageous for both businesses and the military, but regular computer users can also use it to store sensitive information, such as bank account numbers, medical records, and other personal information, safely. Anyone with access to the device can view and copy the data without proper encryption.
  • Provides Robust Security: The only real way to secure information entirely is to use one of the many tools available to password-protect a file or some internal storage information that a user can select. This is possible because no one can use the information without proper decryption.
  • Cloud storage security:  When data is stored in the public cloud, it may be vulnerable to a broader range of dangers, including unintentional Internet exposure, access by other cloud tenants, and insider threats at the cloud provider. The default data encryption in cloud storage supports a security layer against all these dangers.
  • Securing intellectual property: It protects the strategic asset with a potential value of millions, so it needs to be protected. An organization can make it difficult for an attacker to use this information by encrypting it and managing encryption keys securely.
  • Key Management: This crucial component of encryption management is key management. The solution must make it simple to generate encryption keys, distribute them to information owners, back up those keys, and destroy them when access is annulled.

Data Security Options

Devices, emails, and data can be encrypted using data protection solutions. These encryption functionalities frequently come with gadgets, emails, and data control options. As workers use portable drives, portable storage drives, and web apps more frequently as part of routine business operations, businesses and organizations must contend with the threat of data loss. As workers copy data to removable media or upload it to the cloud, sensitive data might no longer be in the company's control or under its protection. Therefore, the most acceptable data loss prevention alternatives guard against data theft and malware infection from external and removable devices and web and cloud-based applications. 

To accomplish this, they must also ensure that software and hardware are used correctly, and that data is automatically encrypted even after it has left the company.

As we already mentioned, a data loss prevention program must include email encryption and control. Secure, encrypted email is the only method for managing it. The finest data loss prevention systems instantaneously alert, restrict and encrypt confidential material based on message context and content. 

Data encryption might seem complicated, but data loss prevention software does it daily. There's no need for your organization to struggle on its own for data encryption; selecting a top data loss prevention program that provides data encryption for all devices is the way to ensure your data is safe.

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or haseebawan@efani.com for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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