Encryption Technologies Explained

Encryption is used absolutely everywhere, and for many, there are a lot of burning questions. How does encryption work? What makes a ‘good’ encryption technology? How does it secure your data? These are all questions we receive on a regular basis.

Encryption is an enormous subject area, and rightly so. While the concept, in practice, is simple, there’s a reason why new best practices are developed by leading mathematicians, cryptography experts, and the leading technical minds in our industry.

This week, we’ll focus on giving you an excellent baseline understanding of encryption technologies and how they work and reinforce your confidence in the security considerations made for data in transit and at rest.

The definition is simple. Encryption is designed to encode a message in such a way that it can only be read by the desired recipients, if any. Regardless of how simple, and if they can be broken, this concept still stands. For example, if I were to take “Hello”, and rotate each character backwards by 7, it would become “AXEEH”. This method would be dubbed the “ROT7” cipher. Encryption technologies are substantially more complex, but this example may help to illustrate the case.

The issue with the above is that it is reversible. Many encryption technologies mentioned in present day are extremely difficult to reverse, also known as one-way encryptions, or more accurately “Hashing”. These standards continuously update as technology becomes faster.

MD5, for example, has been used so extensively that it is easily reversible, even using Google Search. This collision happens due to widespread usage, and end-users storing thousands of plain-text strings alongside their hashed counterpart, the perfect combination to begin reversing this with enough computing power!

For now, iterations of SHA are extensively used. We may begin to see cracks, but only time can tell.