In cryptography, encryption is the process of encoding a message or information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it and those who are not authorized cannot. Encryption does not itself prevent interference, but denies the intelligible content to a would-be interceptor. In an encryption scheme, the intended information or message, referred to as plaintext, is encrypted using an encryption algorithm – a cipher – generating ciphertext that can be read only if decrypted. For technical reasons, an encryption scheme usually uses a pseudo-random encryption key generated by an algorithm. It is in principle possible to decrypt the message without possessing the key, but, for a well-designed encryption scheme, considerable computational resources and skills are required. An authorized recipient can easily decrypt the message with the key provided by the originator to recipients but not to unauthorized users.
Encryption has long been used by militaries and governments to facilitate secret communication. It is now commonly used in protecting information within many kinds of civilian systems. For example, the Computer Security Institute reported that in 2007, 71% of companies surveyed utilized encryption for some of their data in transit, and 53% utilized encryption for some of their data in storage. Encryption can be used to protect data "at rest", such as information stored on computers and storage devices (e.g. USB flash drives). In recent years, there have been numerous reports of confidential data, such as customers' personal records, being exposed through loss or theft of laptops or backup drives; encrypting such files at rest helps protect them if physical security measures fail. Digital rights management systems, which prevent unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted material and protect software against reverse engineering (see also copy protection), is another somewhat different example of using encryption on data at rest.
In response to encryption of data at rest, cyber-adversaries have developed new types of attacks. These more recent threats to encryption of data at rest include cryptographic attacks, stolen ciphertext attacks, attacks on encryption keys, insider attacks, data corruption or integrity attacks, data destruction attacks, and ransomware attacks. Data fragmentation and active defense data protection technologies attempt to counter some of these attacks, by distributing, moving, or mutating ciphertext so it is more difficult to identify, steal, corrupt, or destroy.
Encryption is also used to protect data in transit, for example data being transferred via networks (e.g. the Internet, e-commerce), mobile telephones, wireless microphones, wireless intercom systems, Bluetooth devices and bank automatic teller machines. There have been numerous reports of data in transit being intercepted in recent years. Data should also be encrypted when transmitted across networks in order to protect against eavesdropping of network traffic by unauthorized users.
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F.A.Q about Data Encryption
What is Data Encryption?
Data encryption is a security method where information is encoded and can only be accessed or decrypted by a user with the correct encryption key. Encrypted data, also known as ciphertext, appears scrambled or unreadable to a person or entity accessing without permission.
How Data Encryption is Used
Data Encryption is used to deter malicious or negligent parties from accessing sensitive data. An important line of defense in a cybersecurity architecture, encryption makes using intercepted data as difficult as possible. It can be applied to all kinds of data protection needs ranging from classified government intel to personal credit card transactions. Data encryption software, also known as an encryption algorithm or cipher, is used to develop an encryption scheme which theoretically can only be broken with large amounts of computing power.
What are the types of Data Encryption?
Encryption is often applied in two different forms, a symmetric key or an asymmetric key. A symmetric key, or secret key, uses one key to both encode and decode the information. This is best used for one to one sharing and smaller data sets. Asymmetric, or public key cryptography, uses two linked keys – one private and one public. The encryption key is public and can be used by anyone to encrypt. The opposite key is kept private and used to decrypt.
How to Protect Your Data?
Data encryption is a given in today’s world of cybersecurity. Hardly any responsible security programs are without it. To ensure your data is safe, educate your organization on best practices for data use and sharing.