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What is Encryption?

Encryption is a security control that alters information from a readable to random format to prevent unauthorized access.

Encryption mechanisms convert a human-readable plain text to incomprehensible ciphertext.

Key Takeaways


The Encryption Process

Encryption uses a cryptographic key, which is a mathematical value that both a sender and recipient have to encode and decode information.

The message sender data owner must decide the cipher or encryption algorithm that will best alter the encoding of the message. The cipher generates a variable that the sender uses as a key to make the encoded message unique. The most widely used is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

A random number generator or a computer algorithm that works as a random number generator creates encryption keys.

Reliable encryption uses a complex key, making it difficult for third-parties to crack and access readable data. When an attacker intercepts encrypted data, they have to guess the cipher the sender used to encrypt the message, as well as the encryption keys. The process is complicated and requires time, making encryption a valuable security tool.

Encryption Types

Symmetric and Asymmetric encryption are the two types of encryption.

Importance of Encryption

You can enhance information security by encrypting data at rest or in transit. Encryption offers the following benefits:·  

Encryption Attacks

Hackers deploy brute force to attack encryption. This security threat tries random keys until the hacker finds the right encryption and decryption key. Encryption strength is directly proportional to the key size. Long encryption keys require more time and resources to crack.  

Hackers can also break encryption using side-channel attacks and cryptoanalysis. These attacks target the implementation of the cipher to detect and exploit system design errors.

Downside – Hackers Use Encryption to Commit Cybercrime

Cybercriminals also use encryption to target victims. For instance, ransomware encrypts systems and devices until a target pays a ransom. Ransomware attacks feature an encryption and decryption key that attackers use to lock or open files.

George Mutune

I am a cyber security professional with a passion for delivering proactive strategies for day to day operational challenges. I am excited to be working with leading cyber security teams and professionals on projects that involve machine learning & AI solutions to solve the cyberspace menace and cut through inefficiency that plague today's business environments.