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What is Encryption?

Encryption is a mechanism that protects your valuable information, such as your documents, pictures, or online transactions, from unwanted people accessing or changing it. Encryption works by using a mathematical formula called a cipher and a key to convert readable data (plain text) into a form that others cannot understand (cipher text). The cipher is the general recipe for encryption, and your key makes your encrypted data unique. Only people with your unique key and the same cipher can unscramble it. Keys are usually a long sequence of numbers protected by common authentication mechanisms, such as passwords, tokens, or biometrics (like your fingerprint).



1.) Symmetric-Key Cryptography


•Symmetric-key cryptography refers to encryption methods in which both the sender and receiver share the same key (or, less commonly, in which their keys are different, but related in an easily computable way).


•Symmetric-Key Ciphers are of 2 Types:


•Block Ciphers

•Steam Ciphers


Block cipher


•A block cipher is, in a sense, a modern embodiment of Alberti's polyalphabetic cipher: block ciphers take as input a block of plaintext and a key, and output a block of ciphertext of the same size. Since messages are almost always longer than a single block, some method of knitting together successive blocks is required. Several have been developed, some with better security in one aspect or another than others. They are the modes of operation and must be carefully considered when using a block cipher in a cryptosystem.


Examples of Block Ciphers:




Stream Ciphers:



Stream ciphers, in contrast to the 'block' type, create an arbitrarily long stream of key material, which is combined with the plaintext bit-by-bit or character-by-character, somewhat like the one-time pad. In a stream cipher, the output stream is created based on a hidden internal state which changes as the cipher operates. That internal state is initially set up using the secret key material.



•Examples of Steam Ciphers:




2.) Asymmetric-Key Cryptography


•Asymmetric algorithms use pairs of keys. One is used for encryption and the other one for decryption. The decryption key is typically kept secret, therefore called “private key”, while the encryption key is spread to all who might want to send encrypted messages, therefore called “public key”. Everybody having the public key is able to send encrypted messages to the owner of the secret key. The secret key can't be reconstructed from the public key. The idea of asymmetric algorithms was first published 1976 by Diffie and Hellmann. The Following Slide Explains the Public Key Infrastructure.




  • The NULL Encryption Algorithm and Its Use With IPSec — RFC 2410


See Also: