Basics of Cybersecurity — 1
Most people do not understand the nitty-gritty details of computer security and especially the concept of encryption. Encryption is the process of converting plaintext into a garbled format called ciphertext, to protect its confidentiality and integrity.
There are two basic types of encryption — symmetric and asymmetric.
As the name implies, Symmetric encryption uses the same key for both encryption and decryption.
Asymmetric encryption uses a public key for encryption and a separate private key for decryption.
The key has to be securely exchanged between the sender and the receiver before the communication happens & if not, the security of symmetric encryption is compromised. But asymmetric encryption allows for secure communication even if the public key is shared with an attacker.
In a secure communication between two parties, the parties would first use asymmetric encryption to securely exchange a symmetric key. Once the key has been exchanged, it can then be used for the duration of the communication to symmetrically encrypt and decrypt the actual data.
This is because symmetric encryption is faster and more efficient than asymmetric encryption, making it more practical for encrypting large amounts of data. Also, symmetric encryption keys are smaller than asymmetric encryption keys and it’s easier to manage and distribute them.
If you aren’t convinced why you need to understand what encryption is, just remember it’s what is standing between you and hackers, when you communicate with your loved ones on Whatsapp or buy something online with your credit card or keep a picture or video safe on your phone.