Tips •   Aug 16, 2021

What is encryption and how does it work?

Encryption for Dummies

The world is becoming more and more connected, but some dangers come with this. Cybercriminals, intelligence agencies and other malicious actors can exploit vulnerabilities in the global communications infrastructure to steal information and disrupt our way of life. Encryption protects us from these threats by encoding data not to be read without access to a secret key. This article will explain what encryption is, how it works, and why we need it now more than ever.

Cryptography is the process of turning data into ciphertext so that it's indecipherable without a secret key. It can be used for encrypting messages or electronic communications. Decryption is the opposite of encryption and makes encrypted messages readable again.

How encryption protects us from cybercriminals, intelligence agencies, etc

Encryption protects us from cybercriminals and other malicious actors. When we encrypt data, it is challenging for anyone to access it without the key or password. Hackers could get a person's credentials to decrypt the data, but they would not do this with encryption. Encryption also prevents third parties who are not authorised to view the information from accessing it. The data is also safe from cyber-attacks or other types of compromises. Encryption is a technology that secures your information by turning it into an unreadable format during the transmission process. Once it reaches its destination, encryption software reverses the process and re-converts it to its original form so that you can read and use the information as needed. The four main types of encryption are symmetric key, public key, one-time pad and stream.

What is symmetric key encryption? Symmetric key encryption, sometimes called private key encryption, uses a single shared secret to encrypt and decrypt data. This means that the same password or passphrase must be used to encrypt the data and decrypt it. The biggest advantage of this type of encryption is that it's fast. It doesn't require any additional computational power or decryption software, which means data can be encrypted and decrypted quickly. Symmetric key encryption is also easier to manage since one password can be used for both processes.


We are using Symmetric Key Encryption for Scard, DMW Payment and some of the SI projects that require us to work with sensitive data.


What is Public Key? Public key encryption, also referred to as asymmetric key encryption, is used to share data through two paired keys securely. This means that each person has two separate public and private keys. One set is used to encrypt data, and the other decrypts it. The most common form of public-key cryptography is RSA (named after its inventors: Rivest, Shamir and Adleman), the best-known method for public-key encryption. Another form of this type of encryption is Elgamal.

What is Elgamal? Elgamal is a public-key cryptosystem that uses discrete logarithms based on the algebraic structure of elliptic curves. Invented in 1985, it's used for encryption and digital signatures but has not been as widely adopted as RSA.

What is a One Time Pad? One time pad is the most secure form of cryptography, it is also known as OTP, and it uses for encrypting text that uses different coding techniques to add randomness to plain text. The one-time pad uses a codebook that includes all the letters of the alphabet and numbers in different combinations, and this is done to prevent being attacked by hackers if they obtain the key. It is also called Vernam cipher or a polyalphabetic substitution because it replaces plain text with coded text to make it unreadable to anyone who does not have the key. The one-time pad is a type of Vernam ciphers that use an arbitrarily long stream of binary digits, called "one time pads," for encryption and decryption.

What is Stream? Stream Ciphers are like public-key cryptography in their work, except it uses the symmetric key to encrypt data. Stream ciphers tend to be faster than public-key encryption methods, but it is not as secure as the other forms of encryption mentioned above. It uses a cryptographic key and an initialization vector to get the cipher text output. The main advantage of stream ciphers is that they are easier to implement.


The process of encrypting data

Encryption is done to convert data to a format that's hard to read. It's important because it prevents third parties from accessing the information and blocks cyber-attacks or other types of compromises. Encryption is applied by converting data from its understandable format (plain text) into an unreadable sequence of characters (called cipher text). Once this process has occurred, the encrypted message can be sent over any channel as long as there is a security agreement between the sender and recipient. The recipient will then convert the cipher text back into plain text using a corresponding decryption key.

The process of decrypting data

Decryption is simply the reverse of encryption. That is, it's the process of converting encrypted or encoded information into something that the sender and recipient can read. Decryption keys are just like encryption keys used in a process that uses substitution and transposition to convert ciphertext into plaintext.


For example 1 (message): Hello, Ah Boy!
An encrypted message will look like this.

For example 2 (numeric): $1288
The encrypted message will look like this

For example 3 (message + numeric): Hello, Ah Boy! $1280
The encrypted message will look like this

Decryption Table (we are using very simple decode)

A = 1 K = 11 U = 21 a = 31 k = 41 u = 51
B = 2 L = 12 V = 22 b = 32 l = 42 v = 52
C = 3 M = 13 W = 23 c = 33 m = 43 x = 53
D = 4 N = 14 X = 24 d = 34 n = 44 y = 54
E = 5 O = 15 Y = 25 e = 35 o = 45 z = 55
F = 6 P = 16 Z = 26 f = 36 p = 46 $ = 56
G = 7 Q = 17 ! = 27 g = 37 q = 47 1 = 57
H = 8 R = 18 , = 28 h = 38 r = 48 2 = 58
I = 9 S =19   = 29 i = 39 s = 49 8 = 59
J = 10 T = 20 : = 30 j = 40 t = 50 0 = 60


The example shown is super simple to understand how encryption & decryption work. Imagine if we use 256 or more combinations to decode each character. 


Encryption is the method by which information is converted into secret code that hides the information's true meaning. The science of encrypting and decrypting information is called cryptography.
via searchsecurity


Where encryption is used in the digital world like emails, messaging apps

Encryption is used to protect data that's transmitted online. It's also used to protect files stored digitally, for example, on remote servers or in virtual environments. Encrypted messages can be sent over the internet using several messaging apps like Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. These messages are protected by encryption so that they can't be accessed by anyone who the sender or recipient has not permitted. This means that even if a third party intercepts an encrypted message, they won't be able to read it.

Encryption is also used for emails; when you send an email, you provide your recipient with a lockbox key, and they have the corresponding key to decrypt the email once it has been received. The lockbox key is used to unlock the email so that it can be read.

It also has online banking and shopping; when you purchase something, online encryption protects your credit card details or personal information, although people work with encrypted data. Security experts recommend strong encryption methods because it makes important financial transactions safer.

We also use encryption every day, even though we may not notice it. Some of the products that process encrypted data include smartphones, PCs, routers and many more. Encryption is becoming increasingly important in today's digital world. Hence, businesses and individuals need to secure their communications and stored data using solid encryption methods like AES and Triple DES standards.


Psst.. We are currently planning to roll out Privacy Message on Scard, which will allow users to seamlessly send and receive messages without needing to download any software on their phone or laptop. And the best part is it's encrypted!


Here is more videos information to explain more about encryption:


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