Topics / Security / Symmetric Encryption

Symmetric Encryption

What is encryption?

Internet security and encryption

Encryption is the conversion of data (plain text) into a form that is unreadable (ciphertext).

Encryption allows us to protect data during transmission and make it useless if hacked from a server.

The process of encryption involves secret encryption/decryption keys and an encryption algorithm.

Encryption keys consist of a combination of letters and numbers.

The longer the key, the harder it is to figure out, e.g. a 256 bit key is more secure than a 128 bit key.

Symmetric encryption

Symmetric encryption uses the same secret key to encrypt and decrypt the data.

Drawback

Using the same key to encrypt and decrypt creates a problem known as the key distribution problem.

In order to decrypt your ciphertext data, the receiver will need a copy of your secret key.

Sending the secret key over the internet causes a serious security risk – a hacker could intercept the key and decrypt the ciphertext data too!

Other than physically transporting the key yourself, there is a solution to the key distribution problem.

It’s called asymmetric (or public key) encryption.

Our Asymmetric Encryption page explains all about asymmetric encryption.

Test your knowledge of encryption with our quick quiz.

Topics / Security / Symmetric Encryption