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What Are The Key Concepts In Encryption?

By J.Austine
What Are The Key Concepts In Encryption?

In some conditions, encryption is usually automatic and straightforward. But at times, it can go wrong when you don't understand it's in and out. The more understanding you have about encryption, the safer it will be in various situations.

What Are The Key Concepts In Encryption?

It is important to acquaint yourself with everything encryption from this [guide](In some conditions\, encryption is usually automatic and straightforward. But at times\, it can go wrong when you don't understand it's in and out. The more understanding you have about encryption\, the safer it will be in various situations.). It has all the details on what you should do. However\, we will delve into five important ideas to understand the key concepts in encryption.  We will be discussing:
A cipher, a key
Symmetric and asymmetric encryption
Private and public keys
Identity verification for people (public key fingerprints)

A cipher, A Key

Mostly you may see something that is difficult to understand on your screen. It may appear to be in another language or some sort of gibberish. What’s underlying when you see this is a barrier to read and understand the text. And, it doesn’t mean that the text is encrypted.
The difference is:
Encryption is a mathematical procedure ideal to scramble information and can only be unscrambled by someone with special knowledge. The entire process requires the use of a key and cipher.
A cipher refers to an algorithm – a set of rules used for encryption and decryption. The steps are well-defined, and someone can follow like when using a formula.
On the other hand, a key refers to a piece of information instructing the cipher how to do encryption and decryption. And, that’s why keys are important aspects when someone wants to understand encryption.

Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption

When doing symmetric encryption, only one key is used to encrypt and decrypt all information. Symmetric encryption is used today where it comes in stream ciphers and block ciphers. The ciphers rely on complex mathematical processes that make it hard to crack encryption. The encryption process involves several data scrambling steps that make it difficult to tell the original content without a valid key.
When talking about the modern symmetric encryption algorithms like AES - Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm, it's relatively strong and fast. This encryption type is commonly used in computers. It serves the purpose of encrypting files, encrypting computer partitions, and offering full encryption to devices. It is also valuable for encrypting computers through full-disk encryption and encrypt databases like password managers.
Decrypting symmetrically encrypted information requires someone to have a password. It's noble to have a strong password for your security and to protect encrypted information. Follow this tutorial to help you create a strong password. Consider having a key if you will be the only person to have the information. However, it may be a disadvantage when you want to share information with friends, family, and other people.
For Asymmetric encryption, also referred to as public-key encryption, addresses the key issues. Asymmetric involves two keys – a public key for encryption and a private key for decryption.

Private and Public Keys – Asymmetric Encryption

Private and public keys come as a matched pair; this is so because they are tied together mathematically. Like a rock, the two are inseparable – you cannot split rock to get two halves and bind it together again. The private and public keys act the same.  They however compose of computer-readable illustrations of large numbers.
A public key is more of a file you give someone or help you publish publicly. When an individual needs to send you an encrypted message, they will use the private key to send the message. However, you will use the private key to decrypt the encrypted message. Since the decrypted message is important to you, the private key is essential to protect your privacy. Additionally, the private key is also instrumental in signing documents to ascertain that they came from you.
Since a private key is a file needing a lot of protection, it's noble to encrypt, and a password protects your device. This way, the key will be safe on your user device.

Who is Your Encrypted Message Recipient?

You may be anxious to get an encrypted message since you have private and public keys. Yes, it's possible that someone can send you a message. But, do you know that someone can impersonate you? This is where public-key cryptography comes in. It is useful in verifying your identity and that of one of the recipients.
Additionally, it helps you read all encrypted messages sent to the public key and let you place digital signatures which are unforgeable. This allows you to certify that, indeed, the message came from you. The recipient will see the digital signature beside your message and confirm the message present in the public key.

Identity Verification for People (Public Key Fingerprints)

When sending out a message, we often rely on people's good faith. Like in the world today, no one ever thinks of the mail person meddling with the contents of the email. It isn't practical that they can intercept a letter and modify it before delivering it to us. However, there is a likelihood that an interception can occur anytime.
Encrypted messages have the risk of interception, and everything is modified as if it never happens. But, public-key cryptography paves the way for double-checking all sent information if they have been tampered with. It involves double-checking a person’s digital identity with the real-life one to check the difference.
The public key is a gigantic text block in a file represented in a readable shortcut referred to as key fingerprint. Key fingerprint involves a string of characters that allows you to check if someone is using the private key in a unique and secure way.
Some apps have information in the form of a QR code that the sender and receiver can use to scan each other's user devices.
If you doubt an identity, you can double-check if the person's digital identity is the real person they are by doing finger verification. The verification can be best done in person. If you are in a position to meet the person one-on-one, have the public fingerprint with you. Double-check it with the other persons to ascertain that all the characters from your end and their end match. However much it can be tedious, more so for long string characters, it is worth it. If not able to meet physically, consider using other secure channels such as end-to-end encrypted chat systems. Avail your fingerprints with utmost security for verification also using an HTTPS website.

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