What is encryption and why it is important for data protection

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Today communication has acquired an increasingly central role in the life of everyone. In the age of the internet, billions of information, even sensitive, are circulating on the net. For this reason it is increasingly necessary to develop sophisticated systems that guarantee a high level of confidentiality of data. Let’s find out together what is encryption and why it is important for data protection!

One of the indispensable tools to ensure the privacy and security of personal data is encryption. Today the Internet is the most widespread means of conveying information and it is evident how often the risks of its misuse are underestimated. This is why there is an increasing need for encryption for all public and private organizations.

Cryptography is a system that through the use of a mathematical algorithm acts on a sequence of characters, transforming it. This transformation is based on the value of a secret key, which is the parameter of the encryption/decryption algorithm. The secrecy of this key represents the security guarantee of every cryptographic system. In addition to protecting private information from theft and breaches, encryption is also a means used to prove that the vehicular information is authentic and comes from the declared origin.

Secret writing techniques (Kryptos = hidden and graphia = writing) can be effective in thwarting any attempt by those who try to gain control of data and steal it. Since anyone can access the network for some time you are adopting the HTTPS protocol that, to the traditional HTTP protocol (with which data always travels in clear), you add the use of a cryptographic algorithm (TLS) and a digital certificate to declare the identity of the remote server and the entity that manages it.

Read our article explaining phishing attacks!

Key Features of encryption 

Encryption serves both to protect the transmitted data from being altered or stolen by attackers and to authenticate a user. It is the basis of data protection and is the easiest way to ensure that information from a computer system cannot be stolen and read by someone who wants to use it for malicious purposes.

When talking about a cryptographic algorithm it is essential that it offers:

  • authentication: means a process that allows the identity of each participant in a communication to be attested;
  • secrecy: it is essential to ensure that no one can read a message, except for the chosen recipient;
  • integrity: the message sent to the recipient must not be capable of being altered before delivery;
  • Issuer confirmation: a mechanism to provide certainty that the sender of a message cannot deny having sent it.

Types of encryption

Different types of encryption can be identified:

  • Symmetric encryption, or secret or proven key algorithm, where messages can be decoded by a unique key in both encryption and decryption. To access content protected with this technique you need to know the password. This system is efficient and fast to transmit data in bulk, but the need to exchange the key with remote users makes it vulnerable.
  • Asymmetric encryption, this method uses two different keys: a public one, which can be shared with anyone, and a private one, which must remain secret. This technique was designed to avoid the risks associated with the transmission of keys, as the public one circulating is not enough to decrypt the protected content. To encrypt a text, then, you use the public key of the recipient of the message, while the latter for decoding must necessarily be in possession of his private key.

Finally, there is a third type of encryption called end-to-end, mainly used by WhatsApp, Messenger or Telegram, which allows you to protect your privacy and communications using a double encrypted key needed to encrypt and decrypt messages on the go. Each user has a public key and a private key, inextricably linked to each other. The private key is intended to remain on the device of the two “communicators” and will serve to decrypt incoming messages; the public key, instead, is shared with the interlocutor and is used to encrypt outgoing messages. This encryption allows you to make harmless attempts to attack man in the middle, which aim precisely to steal data and personal information “intercepting” communications between two or more users.

Conclusion

Cryptography thanks to the introduction of the GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation, in the field of cybersecurity has become a fundamental tool to protect data, stored or in transit, from unauthorized access or prying eyes, but above all it has become necessary by accidental disclosures that could take place due to unawareness of the users who treat the information. In the company, in addition to the introduction of the HTTPS protocol, this encryption system has also been implemented at the file level on corporate archives for the exchange of messages within the corporate universe, such as digital signature of messages and-sent emails or encrypted chats.

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