Types of Encryption Techniques: We are in the age of data. Today, an average human is worth less than the data he produces. And due to this, it has become paramount that we make sure our data remains secure. There are plenty of ways you can achieve it. One of the most popular data security measures is Encryption.
We must first understand the concept of Encryption.
What is Encryption? – Types of Encryption Techniques
Encryption is encoding your data into an unreadable format. This is normally done by the use of specialized software. This makes it so that only the sender and receiver, who have the proper ‘keys’ or ‘rights’ can decode it and convert it back into the original format. This marks a complete cycle of Encryption and Decryption.
To have a better grasp of this concept, we will consider an example.
Whenever you share something over the internet, your data is transferred from your computer or terminal and travels through various other network devices situated worldwide, until it reaches the correct receiver. But in this process, all these intermediate devices have access to the file and thus there is a chance of it being compromised. This is tackled with the use of Encryption and Decryption. The file, before leaving the sender’s end is encrypted with a certain format and then sent on the network. This makes it so that if an intermediate device tries to compromise the data, it only gets a file with scrambled garbage.
Encryption is a secure way to transfer private data to avoid any third-party intervention. It can be done at any point in the data flow as it isn’t an isolated process.
Now that we have an understanding of Encryption, it is time to understand how it really works.
How does Encryption work?
To put it simply, encryption uses algorithms (set of instructions) to jumble up the data you want to encrypt. You should have a randomly generated key in order to access the original data. The key is used to decrypt the encrypted data.
For example, imagine you have a safe-box which only opens with a special type of key. Only you and the person whom you have given a copy of that key can open the box. No-one else would be able to access the internals of the safe-box. In the digital world, this happens electronically.
To categorize the steps, here are the three encryption levels that are present:
- Plain Text
- The encrypted text (also called ciphertext)
- Decrypted text (the replica of the plain text)
Given below is an example of this process in action.
- Consider the following text
- “This is a beautiful universe. I am so happy to be alive. It is truly a blessing.”
- We will use the DES algorithm with CBC mode to encrypt this.
- Our keyword: Love
- The text after encryption looks like
This is a procedurally generated garbage. Anyone who reads this data cannot understand what it actually means. If you copy this text with an online decrypt tool using the keyword, you can read the original text.
Now, before we talk about various encryption methods, we must first look at the different types of keys that are available. There are two kinds of encryption keys:
1. Symmetric – Types of Encryption Techniques
It is an old and well-known encryption technique where the sender shares the private key with the receiver. Thus, both the sender and receiver have the same shared key and this makes it faster to decrypt the data.
This method works with two keys. One is called a public key and the other a private key. The public key is sharable, but the private key will remain only with the sender and receiver. The public key is used for encryption and the private key for decryption. The public key can be thought of as a master key that has wider accessibility. The private key is like a safety key that is only available to certain individuals. Since this encryption technique used two separate keys, any algorithm based on this will be considered a strong algorithm as it ensures high levels of security.
Different Types of Encryption
There are several different kinds of encryption techniques in the market today. We will be looking at 6 of those popular techniques in this article.
1) Triple DES
Triple DES or Triple Data Encryption Algorithm uses symmetric encryption. It uses a 168-bit key which is triple the size of the DES block cipher on which it is based. It works in three phases in both encryption and decryption.
- For decryption,
- Decrypt again
Because it encrypts thrice, it is a lot slower than other encryption techniques. Also, it encrypts data in short block lengths which makes decryption easier. This raises the risk of data theft. It used to be a highly recommended and widely used algorithm but with the introduction of newer algorithms, it has lost its popularity. But even today many financial and business organizations use this technique to encrypt and protect their data.
AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. It is also symmetric encryption based on an algorithm known as the Rijndael algorithm. It makes use of block cipher and encrypts a fixed-sized block at a time. It works with 128-bit or 192-bit key length but it can be expanded to 256-bit length. It makes multiple rounds to encrypt the bits. 128-bits take 10 rounds and 192-bits take 12 rounds and so on.
It is regarded as one of the best algorithms as it was developed by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.
RSA or Rivest–Shamir–Adleman is an asymmetric cipher that works with 2 keys. It works on a 1024-bit key but can be extended up to 2048-bit key length. This makes the encryption process quite slow but this algorithm is considered the best and strongest encryption algorithm. It is also regarded as an encryption standard for data shared via the internet. Compared to the rest of the types, RSA, in particular, gives a really hard time for hackers because of the long sized encryption key.
Blowfish was designed to replace the DES. It is a symmetric block cipher that uses a variable-length key which ranges from 32-bits to 448-bits. It divides data into fixed-sized blocks of length 64-bits when encrypting and decrypting.
It was designed for fast functioning and comes as free public encryption software for anyone to use. It is unpatented and unlicensed. Not just that, it is also claimed by various organizations that this algorithm has never been hacked. These reasons make it a very popular choice for vendors and e-commerce in saving their payments, passwords, and other confidential information.
Twofish is also a symmetric block cipher. It is an advanced version of Blowfish which has a block size of 128-bits. It can be extended to 256-bits. Like most other symmetric ciphers, it breaks the data into fixed-length blocks. But it uses only 16 rounds regardless of the size of data. This encryption algorithm is considered very flexible as it allows you to choose the process of encryption to be fast on the cost of a slower decryption process and vice versa. Like Blowfish, it is license-free and considerably fast. You have full control over the algorithm as compared to other encryption algorithms. After AES, Twofish is considered to be the second-best.
6) FPE – Types of Encryption Techniques
FPE or Format Preserving Encryption is a relatively new encryption that encrypts your data in a similar format as that of the original text. For instance, say, if you have a text which has 10 letters, 7 numbers, and 5 special characters, then the output will also have the same number of characters but in a different combination. That is to say, it preserves the structure of your plain text.
It is used in places like financial databases, banking systems and retails, etc.
Now that we have discussed the different data encryption techniques, we should also look at encryption applications. It is important to make sure that the data you are sending isn’t getting altered. Encryption applications make sure that doesn’t happen. Here we talk about two main applications:
- Digital Certificates
Hashes are a one-way function that takes a large set of data as input and converts them into a smaller sized data of standard length. A unique fingerprint is created which ensures that the data has not been altered using different encryption levels. The outcome is called a Hash Value or Hash Digest.
To test for any alterations in data, you can compare the Original hash with the new one. Two differently data will not produce the same hash so any mismatch will result in the confirmation of alteration.
2. Digital Certificates – Types of Encryption Techniques
It is important to make sure you identify the source from which your encrypted information is coming and also who will decrypt it. This is where Digital Certificates come into the picture.
Digital certificates are also called identity certificates or public-key certificates. They authenticate the given details of the sender and the receiver using various encryption methods. Your digital certificates can be issued by any certificate authority. It generally includes:
- Your name
- Certificate authority’s name
- Unique certificate serial number
- Its expiry date
- Unique private key
- Certificate authority’s digital signature
Once this digital certificate is issued, you can use it as a verification source for your various online needs.
There are several different encryption techniques available for you to use for data protection. To choose an ideal one, you must consider your needs and look at the pros and cons of these techniques.
Furthermore, you can authenticate and validate your information via encryption protocols and applications. Ensuring you follow all these steps, any change of a data breach will be minimal.