Encryption is a vital part of cyber security and is probably the most used counter-measure to prevent sensitive data from being compromised. It is used by just about everyone who uses a computer, whether they know it or not. Here is a brief but detailed description of encryption and decryption along with several examples of different kinds of encryption/decryption.
Encryption is the process of making data either inaccessible or unusable to those who are not authorized to view it. To simplify encryption let’s think of cyber security as the overall security system for your house and your computer or server being the house, then encryption would basically be the safe you keep all of your sensitive documents in. Its job is not so much to keep people from getting in your house but to keep them even if they get in from getting anything important. Even if someone gets your documents, without the key it is essentially useless to them.
Decryption is basically the process of taking data that has been made inaccessible or unusable by the process of encryption and then returning them to their original state. To simplify explaining decryption let’s think of it as basically you or whoever happens to have the key to your safe opening it and taking all of the sensitive documents out. The reason there are so many different kinds of encryption/decryption is because it is possible for illegitimate users to gain access to the sensitive data by finding your key or replicating it.
One of the specific types of encryption mentioned above is known as public key encryption, it essentially uses two different keys one for encrypting and another one for decrypting. The first key or the public key is available to anyone and is used for encrypting something for a specific person such as when you are encrypting something for them you would use their public key to do so. The second key or the private key is a private or secret key and only it can be used to decrypt whatever it is you encrypted for them. The keys work with each other this way because they are mathematically related and only work with each other. It is one of the more widely used forms of encryption as it is fairly simple but still has a very high level of security, because it is virtually impossible to figure out someone’s private key just by knowing their public key.
One of the best things about encryption is that it is constantly improving and growing to keep up with technology, but the problem is that as fast as we improve our encryption the people trying to get past it are improving just as quickly if not more so. So unfortunately, it is a constant struggle to stay on top of it and prevent sensitive data from being released, but it is a necessary one
Encryption is a very important part of maintaining not just our privacy but also our security. It allows us to use sensitive data freely over the internet without having to worry about somebody stealing it, but nothing is absolute and we must keep pushing it forward so that our data can be secure and stay that way.