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What is cryptography? How algorithms keep information secret and safe

In the United States, cryptographic algorithms approved by the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) or National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) should be used whenever cryptographic services are required. In computing, unencrypted data is also known as plaintext, and encrypted data is called ciphertext. The formulas used to encode and decode messages are called encryption algorithms, or ciphers. On many occasions, it is advised to use a combination of symmetric and asymmetric to achieve better speed and security. In the image below, you see the process of using both symmetric and asymmetric encryption to transfer information and secret keys privately.

what Is cryptography and how does It work

By using a password or certificate, the firewall can recognize that this is an authorized connection. The employee then identifies him/herself by means of credentials known to him/her. One of the biggest drivers for VPN adoption in recent years has been the increasing demand for content with geographical access restrictions.

Quantum computers have the capability to crack these problems much faster than conventional computers, potentially compromising the safety of our encryption methods. Even though hash functions do not encrypt messages, they are an integral part of cryptography because they play a crucial role in securing and authenticating data, which are key goals in cryptography. Cryptographic hash functions are different from other types of cryptography.

The stronger the algorithm the longer would take to find the key by trying every key choice until one works now we are talking days months years, hundreds of years, thousands of billions are the oldest universe. In some cases, if part of key management, you change your key in a shorter amount of time than a brute-force attack or other attack would work. As I said, the biggest issue for symmetric encryption is key management. Asymmetric encryption or public key encryption saves us from the need to pass out secret keys. Instead, math magically connected key pair is used, that is two keys, one half of the key pair is public, and the other is private. If data is encrypted with the public key, then it would be decrypted with the private key.

Also in web browsers, TLS and SSL can be applied to many different situations like the unsecured HTTP will become the secured HTTPS and for data transfer and remote management. Secure shell takes the place of the internet and SFTP takes the place of FTP. Symmetric is generally very fast and ideal for encrypting large amounts of data (e.g., an entire disk partition or database). Asymmetric is much slower and can only encrypt pieces of data that are smaller than the key size (typically 2048 bits or smaller). Thus, asymmetric crypto is generally used to encrypt symmetric encryption keys which are then used to encrypt much larger blocks of data.

Of course, the problem here is that if the message is intercepted, the third party can easily decode the message and steal the information. Cryptographic techniques are improving all the time, and there will soon come a time when quantum computers could render classic encryption methods useless (assuming criminals could access quantum computers). But as a business or end-user, the main way to stay secure is to ensure that all your applications and networks are protected by high levels of encryption and that any private keys are heavily secured. The exact technique used to scramble plaintext into ciphertext defines how cryptography works.

With the cryptocurrency craze in full swing, you can’t avoid hearing about the people mining these digital currencies—and destabilizing the graphics processor market. Remote work, IoT devices, virtual networks, and edge computing present various security challenges. And your current security architecture may not successfully address these issues. Enters Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture, a new approach to strengthen your organization’s security posture. Despite their convenience, there are drawbacks when it comes to relying on web applications for business processes. A cyberattack can come in a variety of forms and can hamper your business work.

what Is cryptography and how does It work

Starting from browser identification to server authentication, encryption and cryptography, in general, have simplified online browsing. Then, there’s the benefit of understanding how each cloud application or other service uses encryption. Some applications are heavily secure, while others provide minimal levels of protection.

Modern cryptography might not use sticks, but the end goal remains the same. It attempts to preserve the integrity of data and curb snoops from reading it. Although it’s shrouded in technical jargon, it is an essential subject for all. Cryptography can be traced back to the ancients, with the first documented use dating to 1900 BC in ancient Egypt with substituted hieroglyphics.

  • Encryption is the method by which information is converted into secret code that hides the information’s true meaning.
  • As digital information crosses more boundaries and companies share more of it, ensuring your data is secure will be essential to working with other services, building digital products and managing secure services.
  • You should therefore rely on an additional trusted anti-virus software.
  • Coded hieroglyphs and cuneiform inscriptions from ancient Egypt and Babylon are the earliest surviving examples of “classical” cryptography that used substitution methods to translate plaintext into ciphertext, and back again.
  • It can then pass the same ciphertext through the decryption key and return to the cleartext/plaintext format.
  • It can be very useful for keeping a local hard drive private, for instance; since the same user is generally encrypting and decrypting the protected data, sharing the secret key is not an issue.

Access to encryption keys should be monitored and limited to those individuals who absolutely need to use them. The primary purpose of encryption is to protect the confidentiality of digital data stored on computer systems or transmitted over the internet or any other computer network. Encryption is commonly used to protect data in transit and data at rest. Every time someone uses an ATM or buys something online with a smartphone, encryption is used to protect the information being relayed. Businesses are increasingly relying on encryption to protect applications and sensitive information from reputational damage when there is a data breach.

Non-repudiation is often used in conjunction with other security measures such as authentication and encryption. Authentication verifies the identity of the parties involved in the transaction or communication, while encryption ensures that what Is cryptography only authorized parties can access the data. Non-repudiation adds an additional layer of security by ensuring that once a party has been authenticated and the data has been encrypted, the party cannot deny their involvement in the activity.

With cryptography and encryption built into every business cloud, mobile and digital service, it’s vital to understand how it functions and where the weak points could be in a business. This is especially true if you have a wide cloud footprint where data could cross several different cryptographic protections. Also known as Rijndael, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is an encryption technique that uses block ciphers, or algorithms that apply data encryption in measured blocks that match the plain text entered. For instance, if a piece of text or data is 144 characters, the block cipher would also be 144 characters. The primary technique behind the concept of cryptography is a process known as encryption.

Attackers may also attempt to break a targeted cipher through cryptanalysis, the process of attempting to find a weakness in the cipher that can be exploited with a complexity less than a brute-force attack. The challenge of successfully attacking a cipher is easier if the cipher itself is already flawed. For example, there have been suspicions that interference from the National Security Agency (NSA) weakened the DES algorithm. Following revelations from former NSA analyst and contractor Edward Snowden, many believe the NSA has attempted to subvert other cryptography standards and weaken encryption products. Encryption is an effective way to secure data, but the cryptographic keys must be carefully managed to ensure data remains protected, yet accessible when needed.

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