When you use the word encrypt in a computer context, encrypt data, you are talking about encryption. Encryption is the transformation of electronic data in another way so that they cannot be easily understood or interpreted by any person, or even certain software, except those authorized and who knows the encryption.
The main objective of carrying out encryption is to protect the confidentiality of the data stored in computer systems or those that are sent through the internet or any type of network. Along with confidentiality, encrypt data protects other basic principles such as authentication, since the origin of a message can be verified, and integrity since it is proof that what is contained in the message has not been changed since the moment it was sent. Typically, encryption is based on algorithm systems capable of converting data.
What is Data Encryption?
The word encryption refers to the study of techniques in which information is transformed from its original form to another, more difficult to identify, that is, a code. Analyzing the etymology of the term, we have that the prefix crypto means "hidden", while spelling translates as "writing".
There are several ways to encrypt a message. To illustrate simply, we can just reverse a few letters of the alphabet, matching the original order.
As an example, let's change the A by O, the B by C and E by Z.
Now try writing the following sentence in the new encrypted alphabet: “her house is very pretty." We would have, as a result, the message: “the boso dzlo z czm canito”.
Did you see? With a simple exchange, we already get a very representative result of what data encryption is!
In this case, the information on which letters have changed in the alphabet is what we call the security key. With it, it is possible to "break" the coding created.
The main purpose of hiding a message is to make sure only the right recipient can access the content. Information coding techniques are not restricted to modern digital environments but have been present in history since many years ago.
Examples include the equipment used by Nazi soldiers during World War II to exchange messages in secret. Called Enigma, the device looked like a typewriter. But as the person typed, the written result was already coded, automatically and without the use of any digital resources. Interestingly, Enigma's encryption was broken using a machine that performed probability calculations to discover the security key much faster than one person.
Developed by a team of British scientists, led by mathematician Alan Turing, electromechanical technology was a major breakthrough in computational computing devices.
The story was portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie The Game of Imitation in 2014. Turing's work is still regarded as one of the precursors to the emergence of the first modern computers. Next, let's continue the subject of data coding, but focusing on the digital environment.
Data Encryption Techniques
There are basically two main types of digital encryption: Symmetric and Asymmetric.
- Symmetric Encryption – With symmetric encryption, normal readable data, known as plain text, is encrypted so that it becomes unreadable. This data scrambling is done using a key. Once the data is encrypted, it can be safely transferred to the receiver. At the recipient, the encrypted data is decoded using the same key that was used for encoding. Thus, it is clear that the key is the most important part of symmetric encryption. It must be hidden from strangers, as everyone who has access to it will be able to decrypt private data. This is why this type of encryption is also known as the "secret key". In modern systems, the key is usually a string of data that is obtained from a strong password, or from a completely random source. It is fed into symmetric encryption software, which uses it to secure input. Data scrambling is achieved using the symmetric encryption algorithm, such as Data Encryption Standard (DES), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), or International Data Encryption Algorithm (IDEA).
- Asymmetric Encryption – An asymmetric encryption key works similarly to a symmetric key, in that it uses a key to encode transmitted messages. However, instead of using the same key, it uses a completely different one to decrypt this message. The key used for encoding is available to any and all network users. As such, it is known as a “public” key. On the other hand, the key used for decryption is kept secret and is intended for private use by the user. Therefore, it is known as a "private" key. Asymmetric encryption is also known as public-key encryption. Since, with this method, the secret key needed to decrypt the message should not be transmitted every time, and it is usually known only to the user (receiver), the probability that the hacker can decrypt the message is much lower.
Importance of Encryption in a business environment
There is no shortage of reasons for a company to invest in data encryption to protect its information and ensure the security of the customer, supplier, and employee. In addition to preventing data theft by a hacker or cybercriminal, integrating encryption into your business routine brings more security in other respects such as:
- Message Exchange – Information circulating on the web in the form of a message can be encrypted. This way, only the recipient can access it.
- Cloud storage – Data stored in the cloud at a specific provider is encrypted so that it is not corrupted or leaked.
- Confidential Data – Customer information, business strategies, financial transaction records, and contracts are all part of a business data set that requires confidentiality - whether to protect user privacy or prevent industrial espionage.
- Navigation – Encrypting employee access data increases browsing security at both the corporate terminal and the mobile device which can use a public network to connect.
At last, we can say that these methods can be used to efficiently encode data in an unreadable format, which can ensure that they remain safe. Most modern systems typically use a combination of these encryption methods along with a strong implementation of algorithms to increase security. In addition to security, these systems also provide many additional benefits, such as verifying a user's identity, and ensuring that the data received cannot be tampered with.