Dating just as far back as the art of communication itself, encryption has always played a vital part in protecting information while maintaining confidentiality and it’s come a long way from invisible ink and simple cryptograms.
In today’s world of communication over the internet almost all private information is shared, including passwords, payments and other personal information. Encryption plays a crucial role in maintaining secrecy of these conversations, protecting data from unauthorized users and hackers.
So what exactly is encryption? Simply put, encryption is the process of turning readable data into a non-readable form which can then be turned back into readable form by authorized users. In a nutshell, it involves encoding information with help of certain encryption algorithm so that data could be decoded on another end with a certain decryption key.
There are two categories of encryption algorithms, symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption.
In symmetric encryption, a readable message is encrypted to make it unreadable. This data is jumbled using what is a called a “key”, and then sent to the receiver. At the receivers end, encrypted data is decrypted using the same key which was used for encrypting.
Instead of using the same key to encrypt and decrypt information, asymmetric encryption involves using a totally different key to decrypt a message from the one that encrypted it. The key used for encryption is made available to all users on a network and is often referred to as a “public key.” On the other side, the “private key” used for decryption is kept secret and used by a particular receiver.
There are also Protocols involved in encryption. A protocol is a set of instructions and rules for communicating data. Networks must follow these rules to successfully transmit data.
The Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is the most widely used security protocol. It provides an encrypted channel between two machines operating over the internet. It is typically used when a web browser needs to securely connect to a web server over the insecure Internet.
Another type of protocol, L2TP, uses a UDP port to enable VPN operations. Since this protocol does not use encryption on its own, it is often used alongside an encryption protocol such as IPsec.
IPsec (Internet protocol security) is a set of protocols that use cryptography to provide security. While not an algorithm itself, IPsec acts a framework for encrypting and verifying packets within the IP protocol and often involves combinations of public and private key cryptography and hashes to add authentication.
PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) is the last protocol to discuss and was developed by large corporations to extend their own corporate networks through private “tunnels” over the public Internet, notably called WAN and LAN networks.
So there you have it, encryption simplified. No deciphering required!