Everything You Need To Know About Cryptography

Beginner’s Guide / 07.08.2020

Cryptography is an essential tool for preventing cybercrime and ensuring certain delicate information does not reach unauthorized people. Sensitive information may entail data on online payments, emails, internet banking, and even private and service message exchange.

Nowadays, there is extensive use of the internet, and in return, there is a lot of data, including sensitive information on networks. To protect your confidential information from unauthorized personnel, you need to implement sophisticated systems to ensure a high level of privacy on your data. 

What then is cryptography, and why is it important? What is encryption, and what does it entail? Why do we need encryption in cryptography? Here is everything you need to know about cryptography. 

Understanding Cryptography

Cryptography is the process of securing information by hiding and converting data in a form that only authorized people can read, comprehend, and evaluate.

Cryptography intends to make data unreadable for those who do not have a way to interpret it by changing raw information into modulated data. The converted data is known as ciphertext and isn’t accessible to unauthorized persons. Data available in raw form is known as plaintext.

Cryptography entails the process of encrypting and decrypting data. There are three main types of encryption widely used: Symmetric Encryption, Asymmetric Encryption, and Hashing

 Types of Encryption

Encryption is the process of changing readable data into unreadable data. Ciphertext needs decoding first to comprehend it in plaintext. The method of decoding ciphertext is known as decryption.

Here are the three major types of encryption:

Symmetric Cryptography

In symmetric cryptography, a plain text gets encoded to become unreadable and then encrypted using a key. The key is sent to the receiver, where the encrypted data gets decoded using the same secret key used for encrypting. A single private key locks and unlocks data.

The secret key used in symmetric encryption can be a string of alphabets, numbers, or both. The strength of the secret key depends on both key management and the type of algorithm used: the stronger the algorithm, the stronger and longer the private keys. 

The secret keys should be kept away from outsiders to avoid the decryption of data from unauthorized personnel. The algorithms commonly used in symmetric encryptions are; Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Data Encryption Standard (DES), and International Data Encryption Algorithm.

 One advantage that symmetric cryptography has over the other encryptions is that it is fast and effortless to apply. 

Drawbacks of Symmetric Cryptography

When an outsider gets hold of the secret key, they can decrypt the encrypted data and, therefore, damage the encryption process. The security key should, thus, be stored safely. Also, the data processing software works with decoded data only, and when encrypted data is in this software, unauthorized persons can get hidden information. 

Asymmetric Cryptography

Asymmetric encryption is also known as public-key encryption. In asymmetric cryptography, data is encrypted and decrypted using different keys. The encryption key is a public key that is available to all correspondents utilizing the network. The decryption key is private and is only known to the owner. 

The algorithms used in this type of encryption are the Diffie-Hellman and Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA).

An advantage associated with asymmetric encryption is that you can share your public key with anyone, without fear of outsiders hacking your data. 

Drawbacks of Asymmetric Cryptography

Asymmetric encryption is slower and more complicated to implement compared to systematic encryption. Also, hackers can use tricky networks to convince you that you are operating a secure connection, and you end up giving them your private information.

Hashing Cryptography

 In hashing cryptography, a hash function converts data to a short and unique fixed string known as a hash value. This type of encryption is vital in checking the integrity of information so that your data is left untampered. If data is the same, it generates a similar hash. Also, plain text cannot develop from the hash alone. Once data is encrypted, it is impossible to get it to its original form.

Private and public keys are both used in hashing for encryption and decryption. Information encrypted with one key is dependent on the other key for decryption. Any unintended modification of data changes the hash value. In hashing, a secure hash which is hard to invert is needed, to avoid hackers getting hold of your private data.

Standard algorithms used in hashing encryption are Message Digest 5 (MD5) and Secure Hashing Algorithm (SHA-1). MD5 and SHA-1, however, are weak, and the SHA-2 algorithm is used in its place.

 Drawbacks of Hashing Encryption

One outstanding disadvantage of using hash encryption is that, when you use a weak hash, information from the hash can be decrypted. Therefore, sensitive data can get to outsiders due to a weak hash.

Digital Envelope

Digital Envelope is the combination of symmetric, asymmetric, and hashing cryptography on a single system. When all the three encryptions merge, they develop a highly efficient encryption system, making it hard for hackers to tamper with your information. 

Why Implement Cryptography?

Implementing cryptography has many benefits, with the key purpose being confidentiality. Cryptography ensures that information is confidential by encrypting data. The encrypted data is not accessible to outsiders, and therefore sensitive information is stored privately.

Another objective of cryptography is to ensure there is data integrity. Different types of encryptions verify the integrity of information, so that data is untampered with, in any system which uses cryptography. Furthermore, cryptography offers non-repudiation of data. That means one can invalidate the existence of data security when using cryptography in your system because you can develop evidence to prove them wrong.

Cryptography also ensures that there is authentication in your encrypted system. No one can obtain your encrypted data without giving the correct private keys. Cryptography is, without a doubt, the best to use in your system to protect your information!

After realizing the setbacks of centralization in the financial industry, Carol has dedicated her career to apprise everyone on the benefits of blockchain technology. When she is not writing, she’s probably somewhere in the park reading a book.