How It Works
Data encryption provides a way for you to protect your data from prying eyes. It also prevents unauthorized users from transmitting confidential data to the wrong party or performing any modifications to the data.
Data encryption works through a coding process to prevent documents, email messages, and other types of information from being accessed by unauthorized users. In an age of increased use of PC technology and sophisticated hackers, it is very easy for others to intercept your messages and read confidential documents.
The encryption program can be included in your email client or can be a stand-alone infrastructure. The encryption process which is known in IT programming as an algorithm, is responsible for the conversion of data that is encrypted. The data is then accessed through an encryption key that the end user uses to access and read the data.
Symmetric encryption involves transmission of a file through the program you are using. This type of encryption creates a key that jumbles up the file for emailing to the person on the receiving end. In order for the recipient to view the file, the sender must forward a separate decoding key which unscrambles the file so the recipient can view and read it.
The only problem with this type of data encryption is it is possible for someone to intercept the file as well as the decoding key during transmission.
This type of data encryption is more secure than symmetric encryption because there are two keys involved with decoding the data, the public key and the private key. When the sender forwards a file, they do so by encrypting it with the recipient's public key. Once the recipient receives the file they access the data by using their private key. The process is much more secure but also takes longer to transmit.
Both types of encryption involve varied algorithms to produce the data depending on whether the encryption is symmetric or asymmetric. The process of the algorithm is used differently according to the type of encryption. This is why the person on the receiving end of the encrypted message must use the same process to access the data that was used to encrypt it.
Encryption keys have a wide variety of lengths and they also vary in strength. The possibility of number combinations is infinite, thus making it virtually impossible for even the most sophisticated hacker to guess the key combinations of the encryption.
Although encryption has been widely used by the military, large corporations, and other organizations who utilize confidential data, home users are also starting to use data encryption at an increasing rate. Additionally, more computer applications are being created with a protocol for data encryption making it more convenient and cost effective to send and receive secure files.