How Encryption Works

Encryption protects data on your network or computer from hackers, similar to a padlock that protects your door from intruders. You need to encrypt your business's personally identifiable information (PII), including names, phone numbers, social security numbers, birthdates, and financial information. Your organization can be held liable with hefty fines in case of a data breach.

Encryption plays an important role in data exchange, authentication, and data integrity. If your business handles data, you have to encrypt data as per the industry's compliance and regulatory standards and the government. Encryption involves scrambling data with the help of complex algorithms when you send it. An algorithm is a series of instructions to carry out the encryption process. It is referred to as ciphers. You can decrypt the received data with an encryption key provided by the sender. An encryption key is a randomized string of characters used to encrypt and decrypt data.

The efficacy of encryption depends on factors like the selected encryption system's aptness, length of the encryption key, and the algorithm's strength. Encrypted data is more secure when the key's encryption code is longer, making it difficult to crack. Encrypting your data can significantly reduce the risk of data theft by malicious users. It offers protection against viruses that can modify, delete, rename, move, or read your files. Encryption is an effective tool that acts as the last line of defense apart from internet security, anti-virus software, and a firewall.

Example of Encryption

To explain encryption and decryption, let's take the example of a data transfer situation.

You want to send an email to your colleague, who shares his public key with you. With the help of his public key, you encrypt the message and send it to him. Once that email reaches him, he can decrypt your message with the help of his private key.

Types of Encryption

There are two types of encryption systems, namely symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption.

Symmetric Encryption: Here, you have only one key that is common to all communicating parties, where the same key works for encryption as well as decryption. Your data is secure as long as the encryption key is kept secret among the authorized parties. The symmetric key system is apt for encrypting your files and drives as it allows you to substitute keys with passwords. This secures your encrypted data, which you can directly decrypt with your password.

Asymmetric Encryption: Also known as public-key encryption, asymmetric encryption is an encryption system that uses multiple keys, both private keys and public keys. You can find this form of encryption in messaging platforms, where messages and other data are securely exchanged between two individuals. In asymmetric encryption, one key plays the role of encryption, and another key plays the role of decryption. You can share the encryption key publicly, which is why it is called the public key, whereas the private key is what you use for decryption.