The Different Types of Data Encryption Explained

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Personal and organizational data is constantly under the threat of being attacked, stolen, replicated without permission or destroyed by cyber criminals around the world. The danger is so palpable that many people fear using online services and apps that request their information for account creation or transactional purposes. Businesses are the biggest victims of hackers and other cyber criminals, whether they are small, mom-and-pop shops or multinational corporations. Hackers who breach businesses’ data security networks can access and steal personnel and customer information, email and many other business-related communications and many other kinds of proprietary and online data. These intrusions and thefts can be very expensive for businesses to recover from, and the damage to their reputations may be irreparable depending on the extent and severity of the data breaches.

The necessity of a powerful data encryption system such as TIME AI cannot be overlooked. Anyone or any business who works with online data must take steps to ensure that their data is adequately being protected around the clock. Unlike unencrypted data, encrypted data is safe even in the event of a hacker successfully breaching the system. The encrypted data remains unreadable and unusable until the right decryption key is utilized. Encryptions can be identified by their encryption type and the encryption algorithm that each one uses. The encryption type tells the user how the encryption will be accomplished, such as using a very common method known as asymmetric cryptography. The encryption algorithm tells the user how strong the encryption will be and this will be discussed in much more detail below. Usually the encryption algorithm is paired with a numerical value, telling the user how strong the algorithm is by indicating its encryption key size.

The following are descriptions of the most common data encryption types in use today.

AES

At the top of the current data encryption rankings and among the most secure is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). It is a standard that the United States government has incorporated into its data security networks to protect classified and confidential data. Many other businesses use it to safeguard their software, hardware and other proprietary products.

AES uses what is known as a block cipher type of encryption with three versions: AES-128, AES-192 and AES-256. As a block cipher, it has the ability to encrypt data in blocks instead of by individual bits. It uses the 128-bit block size, encrypting blocks through successive rounds. Rounds are processes that convert plaintext into cipher text. For a 128-bit key, it takes 10 rounds; a 192-bit key takes 12 rounds; and a 256-bit key takes 14 rounds. As a symmetric encryption, the keys necessary to decrypt given blocks of data are not public. Instead the private keys have to be distributed to specific individuals so that they may gain access to the encrypted data, making this a very secure encryption methodology.

3DES

3DES (Triple DES) is the block cipher encryption successor to an older algorithm known as the Data Encryption Standard (DES). In the past, it was used extensively in data security and helped propel the field of modern cryptography. The DES only used a 56-bit key length, which hackers eventually figured out and took advantage of. By contrast, the 3DES uses a symmetric block cipher with three separate 56-bit keys. With 3DES, the data gets encrypted three times, which results in an essentially 56-bit key turning into a 168-bit key.

This encryption method is criticized as being slower than competing encryption algorithms due to its need to encryption the same data three different times. Another problem with 3DES is that it can be almost trivial for unauthorized individuals to decrypt data and create data leaks due to the short block sizes that this encryption type uses. 3DES uses block sizes that are 64 bits, with encryption rounds that are equivalent to 48 DES rounds. Despite these problems, there are many businesses and financial companies that work with this encryption algorithm to secure their data. The 3DES will likely be slowly replaced with more powerful algorithms, such as TIME AI as they are adopted by more industries.

RSA

RSA stands for Rivest–Shamir–Adleman, an asymmetric encryption algorithm that was first publicly announced by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Len Adelman in 1977. RSA utilizes public-key cryptography to encrypt, decrypt and share data over insecure networks and protect the data from lurking cybercriminals. This encryption algorithm uses two keys: a public key for encryption and a private key for decryption. Anyone can access the public key but only the person with the private key can properly decrypt the data and make use of it. The majority of encryption keys in use come in 1024-bit and 2048-bit key varieties, but it is possible to uses keys that are 3070-bit and even 4096-bit long as well. These much larger key sizes are incredibly secure but take a toll on total encryption time. RSA is considered a strong data security choice because it factors very large integers that are the result of multiplying two large prime numbers.

Blowfish

Blowfish was created in 1993 as a symmetric encryption algorithm and hasn’t been cracked yet. Like the 3DES, Blowfish was made to replace DES in the past and is known to be a very flexible data encryption algorithm. Many businesses use Blowfish to secure ecommerce payment transactions and to manage and secure vital account information such as passwords. It is a block cipher that employs encryption keys that can range from 32 bits on up to 448 bits, splitting up data into 64-bit blocks to prepare them for encryption. No matter the total key size, Blowfish encryption blocks one after the other in 16 rounds.

Twofish

Twofish is the successor to Blowfish. This encryption algorithm does not have a patent and is free for the public to use. Twofish is another symmetric block cipher that works with a 128-bit key as well as 192-bit and 256-bit keys. No matter the total key size length, Twofish will encrypt data 128-bit blocks in 16 rounds, converting plaintext into ciphertext like AES. The number of rounds stays at 16 regardless of the key size, unlike AES. This also means that Twofish-‘s block size ranges from 128-bits to 256-bits. This encryption algorithm works well on systems that use smaller hardware and CPUs.

Among the largest benefits of Twofish besides its data security is its flexibility. The overall encryption methodology can be modified so that the key setup process is slow but the encryption process is very fast, or the algorithm can be adjusted to reverse these features. Since this encryption algorithm is unpatented and has no licenses, the user can take advantage of it without having to deal with restrictions from other individuals and other businesses.

Conclusion

With cyber threats growing in pervasiveness and sophistication, using the most effective and secure encryption methods is becoming less and less a luxury and more of a necessity. As time passes, newer and stronger encryption methods will be created as well as the technical expertise and resources of hackers and others who are interested in breaching personal and proprietary data held by individuals and firms. The most common types of today’s encryption algorithms were explained in this article, pointing out their distinctive features and how they differ from each other. Businesses and individuals should conduct thorough research to determine the best encryption for their needs.

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