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How Does Encryption Work?

how does encryption work

In a world where most communications and transactions occur online, data security is critical. You cannot purchase items online without a set of data-safety algorithms. So why is encryption important? Encryption algorithms are designed to keep your private information safe from cyber thieves. Let’s take a look at the encryption basics and examine encryption types and examples.

What Is Encryption?

what is encryption

Encryption is an algorithmic process that takes private text and converts it into unreadable gobbledygook for the purpose of safe transfer across the internet. At online retail sites, it’s used to protect the credit card information and private data of customers. Encryption makes it possible for you to safely enter your credit card number on Amazon or eBay without any risk of having the digits stolen by an intercepting third party.

How Does Encryption Work?

Encryption works by shifting alphabets down several letters and reassigning each letter in a password according to its corresponding column in the realigned alphabet. The simplest form of encryption will place the last three letters of the alphabet in front of letter A, as follows:

  • A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
  • X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W

If your password undergoes this type of transcription, each letter in the password will be replaced by the one in the corresponding column in the re-sequenced alphabet. Therefore, if your password is UTOPIA, it would be encrypted as follows:

  • U = R, T = Q, O = L, P = M, I = F, A = X

Encrypted, UTOPIA would read as RQLMFX. The key to unlock this encrypted code is 3, the number of letters shifted in the alphabet. The encryption could change depending on how the alphabet is shuffled. If only the last two letters of the alphabet were shifted to the front, the password would read as SRMNGY. The key to unlock that encrypted code is 2. If the W was also shifted to the front, the password would read QPKLEW with a key of 4.

Encryption of this type was used by Julius Caesar in secret messages that he sent to confidants. While the method was complex for ancient times, it can be too repetitive and easy to decipher by today’s standards, especially when you’re dealing with cybersecurity.

One of the biggest problems with this type of encryption is that repetition can be easy to spot and crack. For example, each word that contains back-to-back uses of the same letter would narrow down the possibilities. In English, only a few letters can appear side-to-side in a word, such as EE, OO, LL and SS.

EE is the most common double vowel in English. Knowing this fact, a person who gains unauthorized access to an encrypted code that reads YOBBWB could make an educated guess that the letter B is actually E, thereby cracking half the code. From there, the hacker would only need to guess the rest of the letters in xxEExE. The words FREEZE and BREEZE might come to mind. Correlating the three-letter distances between the encrypted and unencrypted characters, the hacker would then determine that the key is 3 and crack the password: BREEZE.

A more foolproof variation of the Caesar encryption method involves the use of multiple alphabets, each shifted one or more letters than the one above. For example, a password could be encrypted with the five alphabets with each letter in the world shifted down successive rows in the corresponding column:

  • A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
  • Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y
  • Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X
  • X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W
  • W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V
  • V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U

If you encrypt the password HAPPY under this method, the password would read GYMLT. Notice how the two instances of P in the password are each encrypted with different letters. The encryption worked as follows:

  • H = G (Z alphabet)
  • A = Y (Y alphabet)
  • P = M (X alphabet)
  • P = L (W alphabet)
  • Y = T (V alphabet)

Under this method, you can have up to 25 alphabets to encrypt a word or string of text. You could also start the encryption on any one of the alternate alphabet rows. However, this method also has its weaknesses because of the finite number of encryption possibilities.

While the first letter in a word like “planet” could be encrypted on any one of the 25 alternate alphabets, you will ultimately have an overlapping set of code once a combination of encrypted letters are grouped in the same sequence more than once. Thus, the encrypted code of OJXIZN for PLANET will ultimately repeat itself if the word is encrypted a second time starting with the Z alphabet.

In modern computer parlance, Caesar encryption or the multiple alphabet models would be the equivalent of three-bit or 25-bit encryption. Today’s algorithms use between 128 bits and 256 bits to encrypt private data and protect users online.

How Are Encryption Keys Generated?

Encryption keys, which are used to unlock encrypted data, are generated through algorithms. In modern cryptography, symmetric key algorithms are used to produce a single shared key. For the key to protect the data in question, it must remain private among authorized users.

Other algorithms produce both public and private keys for a two-tiered level of protection. The public key is shared among authorized personnel, while private keys are given to each individual user. Public-key algorithms tend not to work as fast as symmetric-key algorithms, though the two are often combined in transport layer security.

Each key should consist of many characters to thwart possible attacks by cybercriminals. In many instances of data theft, the key will be cracked by brute force attack, where every number is attempted for each character until all combinations have been exhausted. Symmetric key algorithms use 128 bits, whereas public-key algorithms use 1,024 bits.

Keys are integers in cryptography that are usually generated at random by a pseudorandom number generator. Therefore, a 20-character key for an account will be generated in a fraction of a second and then sent to the authorized party for personal use and safekeeping.

Types of Encryption

Type of encryption

One of the most secure types of encryption used by organizations is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The AES is an algorithm used for hardware devices and software programs. AES can be used in three different key bits: 128, 192 and 256. Each bit has a number of rounds that convert regular text into encrypted text. AES uses symmetric key encryption.

An older and slower type of encryption is 3DES, which encrypts 56-bit data three times, generating 168-bit keys. 3DES is easier to decrypt because its block lengths are shorter. Consequently, data encrypted with 3DES is often hacked by cyber thieves. Due to its flaws, 3DES is being phased out by programmers.

A more popular option among today’s programmers is Twofish, a symmetric block cipher that ranges from 128 bits to 256 bits. Twofish encryption works well on devices with smaller processing systems. As with AES, Twofish enacts encryption rounds that convert regular text into encrypted code. Unlike AES, the rounds are never different with Twofish, which uses only 16 rounds.

Another encryption type, RSA, is an acronym for the development team behind the algorithm. RSA employs public-key cryptography to secure data across unsecured networks. The algorithm uses one public and one private key. The public key can be accessed by authorized personnel, while the private key is exclusive to each user.

Difference Between Public Key and Private Key

Public key cryptography is used to encrypt data, whereas private keys are employed to decrypt data. So how does public key encryption work? Public key encryption employs an algorithm where text can be encrypted in numerous ways. A word or set of texts could be converted into unreadable gobbledygook and sent to recipients, who can only decrypt such messages with the use of private keys.

The purpose of a private key is to encrypt sensitive data so that the text can be sent to recipients on the internet. The encryption keeps the data safe from third-party hackers and cybercriminals. Public keys are often used to encrypt data that’s then sent to members of a private website, who can then unlock the data with the use of private keys.

Private keys are used to decrypt data so that unreadable text can now become readable again among key-holders. Each private key is kept hidden by the individual user, who enters the system and unlocks the information. Words or sets of texts that have been encrypted into gobbledygook can be decrypted instantly by anyone with a private key.

Private key decryption is the only way to unlock data that has been rendered unreadable by public key encryption algorithms. If you do not hold a private key, the system will assume that you’re not authorized to view the text in question and will block you from entry without exception. Private keys are usually given out to members of online platforms and buyers of hardware and software equipment.

How Does Search Encrypt Use Data Encryption?

how does search encrypt use data encryption

Search Encrypt is a privacy-based search engine that employs algorithms to make web activity safer and more secure for web users. Whereas Google collects private user data and shares that information with partnered entities in Silicon Valley, Search Encrypt collects none of your personal information and erases your browser history after 15 minutes of use.

Search Encrypt uses AES encryption with a 256-bit key, keeping data safe and secure whenever you browse the Web with the extension. No matter which sites you visit on the internet, Search Encrypt prevents sites from retrieving your data. This way, they cannot retrieve your contact information for spam, reveal your IP address to third parties or install malware onto your hard drive.

With AES 256-bit encryption, your private data is scrambled into unreadable text each time you click on a link to a website or social media platform. None of the private data stored on your computer — such as your credit card info, social security number or home address — will be automatically entered into pop-up prompts or accessed by site-retrieval systems. If you read an article online about a particular topic, you won’t suddenly see advertisements related to that search or topic.

About Search Encrypt

Search Encrypt is a browser extension that users can install on PCs and laptops to surf the web free of risk. People use Earth Encrypt to browse social media platforms and read articles on news and entertainment sites. Search Encrypt has become a popular extension among internet users due to increased public concerns about user privacy and prying eyes from the world of Big Tech.

When you browse the web with Search Encrypt, you can watch an embedded YouTube video from any site without having to later cope with numerous recommendations based on that viewing. For example, if you view one video about a historic tragedy, your YouTube front page will not be plastered with disturbing images of Pearl Harbor and the Hindenburg from that day forward. Likewise, you will not see pop-up ads of skiing equipment for months on end after making a single visit to a ski-supply site.

Search Encrypt Terms

You can add Search Encrypt as an extension to your Chrome or Firefox browser and enable the extension to safely surf the internet. When you enter search terms into the browser search bar, the extension will fire down the search results to the most relevant matches. You can enable or disable the extension at any time or remove it from your browser if you wish to revert back to the old way of browsing the web.

Consolidated Technologies, Inc. Technology

contact consolidated technologies about encryption

For B2B communications, encryption is crucial to guarantee the secure transfer of information between two parties. This requirement extends to all the platforms and mediums through which partnered entities communicate across great distances. At Consolidated Technologies, Inc., we offer B2B IT solutions and communication options on the voice, video and data fronts.

Today, it’s easier than ever to expand the reach of your company without the cumbersome overhead associated with complex, outdated in-house computer arsenals. Regardless of the size or magnitude of your organization, encrypted B2B solutions make it possible to grow as a company. Contact us today to learn more about what our services can do for your business.