What Is Data Encryption: Types, Algorithms, Techniques and Methods

Data encryption is a common and effective security method—a sound choice for protecting an organization’s information. However, there are a handful of different encryption methods available, so how do you choose?

In a world where cybercrimes are on the rise, it’s comforting to know that there are as many methods available to protect network security as there are ways of trying to penetrate it. The real challenge is deciding which techniques an internet security expert should employ that best suits their organization’s specific situation.

Gain experience via a remote internship opportunity and obtain an internship certificate by choosing our unique Advanced Executive Program in Cybersecurity. Grab your seat now and enhance your resume in just 6 months. Contact our team today!

What is Data Encryption?

Data encryption is a method of protecting data by encoding it in such a way that it can only be decrypted or accessed by an individual who holds the correct encryption key. When a person or entity accesses encrypted data without permission, it appears scrambled or unreadable.

Data encryption is the process of converting data from a readable format to a scrambled piece of information. This is done to prevent prying eyes from reading confidential data in transit. Encryption can be applied to documents, files, messages, or any other form of communication over a network.

In order to preserve the integrity of our data, encryption is a vital tool whose value cannot be overstated. Almost everything we see on the internet has passed through some layer of encryption, be it websites or applications.

Noted antivirus and endpoint security experts at Kaspersky define encryption as “… the conversion of data from a readable format into an encoded format that can only be read or processed after it’s been decrypted.”

They go on to say that encryption is considered the basic building block of data security, widely used by large organizations, small businesses, and individual consumers. It’s the most straightforward and crucial means of protecting information that passes from endpoints to servers.

Considering the elevated risk of cybercrime today, every person and group that uses the internet should be familiar with and incorporate basic encryption techniques, at the very least.

How Does Data Encryption Work?

The data that needs to be encrypted is termed plaintext or cleartext. The plaintext needs to be passed via some encryption algorithms, which are basically mathematical calculations to be done on raw information. There are multiple encryption algorithms, each of which differs by application and security index.

Apart from the algorithms, one also needs an encryption key. Using said key and a suitable encryption algorithm, the plaintext is converted into the encrypted piece of data, also known as ciphertext. Instead of sending the plaintext to the receiver, the ciphertext is sent through insecure channels of communication.

Once the ciphertext reaches the intended receiver, he/she can use a decryption key to convert the ciphertext back to its original readable format i.e. plaintext. This decryption key must be kept secret at all times, and may or not be similar to the key used for encrypting the message. Let’s understand the same with an example.

Let us understand the work process with the help of an example.

Example

A woman wants to send her boyfriend a personal text, so she encrypts it using specialized software that scrambles the data into what appears to be unreadable gibberish. She then sends the message out, and her boyfriend, in turn, uses the correct decryption to translate it.

Thus, what starts out looking like this:

• Fortunately, the keys do all the actual encryption/decryption work, leaving both people more time to contemplate the smoldering ruins of their relationship in total privacy.
• Next, in our learning about effective encryption methods, let us find out why we need encryption.

Why Do We Need Data Encryption?

If anyone wonders why organizations need to practice encryption, keep these four reasons in mind:

• Authentication: Public key encryption proves that a website’s origin server owns the private key and thus was legitimately assigned an SSL certificate. In a world where so many fraudulent websites exist, this is an important feature.
• Privacy: Encryption guarantees that no one can read messages or access data except the legitimate recipient or data owner. This measure prevents cybercriminals, hackers, internet service providers, spammers, and even government institutions from accessing and reading personal data.
• Regulatory Compliance: Many industries and government departments have rules in place that require organizations that work with users’ personal information to keep that data encrypted. A sampling of regulatory and compliance standards that enforce encryption include HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and the GDPR.
• Security: Encryption helps protect information from data breaches, whether the data is at rest or in transit. For example, even if a corporate-owned device is misplaced or stolen, the data stored on it will most likely be secure if the hard drive is properly encrypted. Encryption also helps protect data against malicious activities like man-in-the-middle attacks, and lets parties communicate without the fear of data leaks.

Let us now find out the important types of data encryption methods.

What are the 2 Types of Data Encryption Techniques?

There are several data encryption approaches available to choose from. Most internet security (IS) professionals break down encryption into three distinct methods: symmetric, asymmetric, and hashing. These, in turn, are broken down into different types. We’ll explore each one separately.

What is the Symmetric Encryption Method?

Also called private-key cryptography or a secret key algorithm, this method requires the sender and the receiver to have access to the same key. So, the recipient needs to have the key before the message is decrypted. This method works best for closed systems, which have less risk of a third-party intrusion.

On the positive side, symmetric encryption is faster than asymmetric encryption. However, on the negative side, both parties need to make sure the key is stored securely and available only to the software that needs to use it.

What is the Asymmetric Encryption Method?

Also called public-key cryptography, this method uses two keys for the encryption process, a public and a private key, which are mathematically linked. The user employs one key for encryption and the other for decryption, though it doesn’t matter which you choose first.

As the name implies, the public key is freely available to anyone, whereas the private key remains with the intended recipients only, who need it to decipher the messages. Both keys are simply large numbers that aren’t identical but are paired with each other, which is where the “asymmetric” part comes in.

What is Hashing?

Hashing generates a unique signature of fixed length for a data set or message. Each specific message has its unique hash, making minor changes to the information easily trackable. Data encrypted with hashing cannot be deciphered or reversed back into its original form. That’s why hashing is used only as a method of verifying data.

Many internet security experts don’t even consider hashing an actual encryption method, but the line is blurry enough to let the classification stand. The bottom line, it’s an effective way of showing that no one has tampered with the information.

Now that we have gone through the types of data encryption techniques, let us next learn the specific encryption algorithms.

What is an Encryption Algorithm?

Encryption algorithms are used to convert data into ciphertext. By using the encryption key, an algorithm can alter data in a predictable manner, resulting in the encrypted data appearing random, but it can be converted back into plaintext by using the decryption key.

Best Encryption Algorithms

There’s a host of different encryption algorithms available today. Here are five of the more common ones.

• AES. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is the trusted standard algorithm used by the United States government, as well as other organizations. Although extremely efficient in the 128-bit form, AES also uses 192- and 256-bit keys for very demanding encryption purposes. AES is widely considered invulnerable to all attacks except for brute force. Regardless, many internet security experts believe AES will eventually be regarded as the go-to standard for encrypting data in the private sector.
• Triple DES. Triple DES is the successor to the original Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithm, created in response to hackers who figured out how to breach DES. It’s symmetric encryption that was once the most widely used symmetric algorithm in the industry, though it’s being gradually phased out. TripleDES applies the DES algorithm three times to every data block and is commonly used to encrypt UNIX passwords and ATM PINs.
• RSA. RSA is a public-key encryption asymmetric algorithm and the standard for encrypting information transmitted via the internet. RSA encryption is robust and reliable because it creates a massive bunch of gibberish that frustrates would-be hackers, causing them to expend a lot of time and energy to crack into systems.
• Blowfish. Blowfish is another algorithm that was designed to replace DES. This symmetric tool breaks messages into 64-bit blocks and encrypts them individually. Blowfish has established a reputation for speed, flexibility, and is unbreakable. It’s in the public domain, so that makes it free, adding even more to its appeal. Blowfish is commonly found on e-commerce platforms, securing payments, and in password management tools.
• Twofish. Twofish is Blowfish’s successor. It’s license-free, symmetric encryption that deciphers 128-bit data blocks. Additionally, Twofish always encrypts data in 16 rounds, no matter what the key size. Twofish is perfect for both software and hardware environments and is considered one of the fastest of its type. Many of today’s file and folder encryption software solutions use this method.
• Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA). Rivest-Shamir-Adleman is an asymmetric encryption algorithm that works off the factorization of the product of two large prime numbers. Only a user with knowledge of these two numbers can decode the message successfully. Digital signatures commonly use RSA, but the algorithm slows down when it encrypts large volumes of data.

3DES

Although the Triple Data Encryption Algorithm (3DEA) is the formal name, it is more generally known as 3DES. This is because the 3DES method encrypts its data three times with the Data Encryption Standard (DES) cypher. DES is a Feistel network-based symmetric-key technique. As a symmetric key cypher, it employs the same key for both encryption and decryption. The Feistel network renders each of these processes almost identical, resulting in a more efficient technique to implement.

Although DES has a 64-bit block and key size, the key only provides 56 bits of protection in practise. Because of the short key length of DES, 3DES was created as a more secure alternative.The DES algorithm is executed three times with three keys in 3DES; nevertheless, it is only deemed secure if three distinct keys are utilised.

When the shortcomings of standard DES became clear, 3DES was widely employed in a variety of applications. Prior to the emergence of AES, it was one of the most widely used encryption algorithms.

Examples of its applications include:

• EMV payment systems
• Microsoft Office
• Firefox

Because there are better alternatives, several of these sites no longer employ 3DES.

According to a draught proposal provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), all variants of 3DES would be deprecated until 2023 and prohibited beginning in 2024. Although it is only a draught, the plan represents the end of an era.

The Future of Data Encryption

As a result, the industry is pushing encryption on several fronts. Some attempts are being made to increase key sizes in order to prevent brute-force decoding. Other initiatives are investigating novel cryptography algorithms. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is testing a quantum-safe next-generation public key algorithm.

The issue is that most quantum-safe algorithms are inefficient on traditional computer systems. To overcome this issue, the industry is concentrating on inventing accelerators to accelerate algorithms on x86 systems.

Homomorphic encryption is a fascinating notion that allows users to do computations on encrypted data without first decrypting it. As a result, an analyst who requires it can query a database holding secret information without having to seek permission from a higher-level analyst or request that the data be declassified.

In addition to securing data in all states, homomorphic encryption also protects it in motion, while in use, and while at rest (on a hard drive). Another advantage is that it is quantum-safe, as it uses some of the same arithmetic as quantum computers.

Should You Use Symmetric or Asymmetric Encryption?

Asymmetric and symmetric encryption are both better suited to specific scenarios. Symmetric encryption, which employs a single key, is preferable for data-at-rest. Data contained in databases must be encrypted to prevent it from being hacked or stolen. Because this data only has to be secure until it needs to be retrieved in the future, it does not require two keys, simply the one supplied by symmetric encryption. Asymmetric encryption, on the other hand, should be used on data transferred to other persons via email. If only symmetric encryption was used on data in emails, an attacker may steal or compromise the material by obtaining the key used for encryption and decryption. Since their public key was used to encrypt the data, the sender and receiver ensure that only the recipient may decrypt the data using asymmetric encryption. Both methods of encryption are used in conjunction with other procedures, such as digital signature or compression, to give further data protection.

Businesses Use Encryption For Many Purposes

Data encryption in businesses eliminates information breaches and reduces the cost of their impact. It is one of the most effective security methods for protecting sensitive information, but you must understand what documents to encrypt and how to use them efficiently.

According to a 2019 survey, around 45% of firms have a consistent encryption policy in place across their enterprise. If your firm operates on cloud infrastructure, you must first plan your security requirements for your cloud deployment and any data that will be moved to the cloud. Make a list of all sensitive data sources so you know what needs to be encrypted with which degree of bit-key security.

If your organization is developing a cloud-based website, for example, you will need to allow engineers and manufacturers to exchange source code and design documents among themselves. You would need to install end-to-end encryption protection using one of the numerous ways discussed in this article to safeguard the sensitive data that they would need to communicate. You can ensure the safety of your data in the cloud even if the cloud storage provider or your account is compromised even if some cloud providers provide some level of encryption.

Steps to Implement an Effective Encryption Strategy

Collaboration

Developing an encryption strategy necessitates teamwork. It is better to approach it as a large-scale project including members of management, IT, and operations. Begin by gathering important data from stakeholders and identifying the legislation, laws, guidelines, and external forces that will impact purchase and implementation decisions. You can then proceed to identify high-risk places such as laptops, mobile devices, wireless networks, and data backups.

It’s helpful to have a general concept of your security requirements. A threat assessment is a smart place to start since it will help you identify what data needs to be encrypted. The strength and processing requirements of different encryption systems might vary, therefore it’s also crucial to assess how secure your system needs to be.

Select the Appropriate Encryption Tools

Once you’ve determined your security requirements, you can start looking for the solutions that will best fulfill them. Keep in mind that in order to effectively protect your network, you will most likely need to install various data encryption algorithms. For example, you may utilize a secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol to encrypt data sent to and from your website, together with the advanced encryption standard (AES) to safeguard data at rest and backups. Using the correct encryption technologies at each level of data storage and transit will assist to keep your company’s data as safe as possible. Encrypted applications, such as encrypted email services, may also help to ensure overall security.

Prepare to Smoothly Deploy Your Encryption Plan

The execution of your encryption strategy, like any big change in your firm, must be well-planned. If you have customer-facing apps, your new encryption may need to be integrated into the application’s back end. Similarly, additional procedures may be required to integrate your new encryption method with legacy systems. You can implement these changes with minimal disturbance if you make excellent planning ahead of time. Working with a third-party IT service provider may also aid in the transition. You will not overload your own IT personnel with too many chores involved with implementing your encryption approach.

After Installation, Maintain Security Culture

Data encryption, as valuable as it is, is not a panacea for your security problems. To get good outcomes, ensure sure your team is educated to use proper encryption and key management methods. If workers put their encryption keys on insecure servers, hostile attackers may get access to your company’s encrypted data. This type of human mistake is thought to be responsible for 84 percent of cybersecurity breaches. Encryption should be used in conjunction with other security techniques to maximize security. Your company may keep its data safe with many levels of security by deploying secure hardware and a strong firewall in conjunction with data encryption.

What Is a Key in Cryptography?

A key is a string of random characters in a certain sequence. Encryption techniques utilize a key to jumble data so that anybody without the key cannot decipher the information. Algorithms, which are sophisticated mathematical calculations, are used in modern encryption. Modern keys are generally randomized much further than a basic string of random integers.

This is true for a number of reasons:

1. Computers can do significantly more complex computations in far less time than human cryptographers, making more complex encryption not only conceivable but also required.
2. Computers may change information at the binary level, the 1s and 0s that make up data, rather not only at the letter and number level.
3. Computer software can decode encrypted data if it is not sufficiently randomized. True randomness is critical for really safe encryption.

A cryptographic key, when combined with an encryption method, will jumble a text beyond human recognition.

There’s a lot to learn about cybersecurity, and Simplilearn offers a great selection of valuable courses to help you enter this challenging field or improve your existing knowledge by upskilling. For instance, if you want to become an ethical hacker, and have a career testing network systems, check our CEH certification course.

Or check out some enterprise-level security training courses such as CISM, CSSP, CISA, CompTIA, and COBIT 2019.

If you can’t decide between the above courses, why not take a handful of them in one convenient program? The Cyber Security Expert Master’s Program teaches you the principles of CompTIA, CEH, CISM, CISSP, and CSSP.

Have a look at the video below that explains what is encryption, how encryption and decryption works with simple step by step explanation, types of encryption and more.

Do You Want to Become a Network Security Professional?

If you’re ready to take those first steps on the path to becoming a network security professional, then you should start with Simplilearn’s CISSP certification training course. The course develops your expertise in defining IT architecture and in designing, building, and maintaining a secure business environment using globally approved information security standards. The course covers industry best practices and prepares you for the CISSP certification exam held by (ISC)².

You get over 60 hours of in-depth learning, the requisite 30 CPEs you need for taking the certification exam, five simulation test papers designed to help you prepare for the exam, plus an exam voucher. Whether you choose self-paced learning, the Blended Learning option, or a corporate training solution, you will get the benefits of Simplilearn’s expert training, and be ready to embark on that challenging and rewarding network security career!

FAQs

1. What is data encryption?

Data Encryption is the process of protecting and securing data by encoding it in such a way that it can only be accessed or decrypted by someone who has the encryption key. In Data encryption, the data is scrambled before it is sent to the person who can unscramble it using a key.

2. What are the 2 types of data encryption?

The two types of data encryption methods are Symmetric Encryption and Asymmetric Encryption. Symmetric encryption is also known as private-key cryptography or secret key algorithm and requires both the parties of sender and receiver to have access to the same key to decrypt the data. Asymmetric Encryption, also known as public-key cryptography, uses two separate keys for encryption process. One key is a public key and the other is a private key which are linked and used for encryption and decryption.

3. What is encryption used for?

Encryption is used to protect data being transmitted. This ensures data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands of cybercriminals, hackers, internet service providers, spammers, and even government institutions. Any time you access ATM or sending messages across devices such as Snapchat, these messages are encrypted to ensure that no-one other than the person it was sent to can access it.

4. Insights on data encryption?

There is a massive amounts of data being stored on cloud servers and being transmitted everyday. It is virtually impossible to conduct day-to-day operations without storing or transmitting these copious amounts of data. Data encryption software  ensure that the data is secured and transmitted safely from one channel to another.

5. How data encryption works

The raw data is in plain text, which means it can be read legibly. This data is then transmitted through encryption algorithms that scramble the data from ‘Hi! How are you?’ to ‘A#$*Y*&%($Y#*%Y%*’. This data is then transmitted across to the receiver, which then goes through an decryption process before is visually presented as plain text to the receiver.

6. Can encrypted data be hacked?

Yes, encrypted data can be hacked. However, depending on the level of encryption applied on the data, the difficulty level increased.

7. How to implement Data encryption?

Before you start implementing Data encryption, you need to understand and define your security needs. The level of encryption will depend on the level of security required by you and your organization. Choose the right encryption tools that suit your needs. Create and implement a encryption strategy. Learn more in detail about data encryption with our Cyber Security Expert course.

8. What is data encryption examples?

WEP and WPA are encryption technologies that are extensively used in wireless routers. Examples of asymmetric encryption include RSA and DSA. RC4 and DES are two instances of symmetric encryption. In addition to encryption techniques, there are what is known as Common Criteria (CC).

9. What is data encryption and why is it important?

Simply put, encryption is the act of encoding data so that it is concealed from or unavailable to unauthorized users. It aids in the protection of private information and sensitive data, as well as the security of communication between client apps and servers.

10. What is data encryption in DBMS?

Encrypting data involves changing it from a readable (plaintext) format to an unreadable, encoded one (ciphertext). Data that has been encrypted can only be viewed or processed after it has been decrypted with a decryption key or password.