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Mini Guide Series: Encryption

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Types of encryption

At the moment, there are two ways of encrypting things. The first one is called symmetric cryptography which uses a secret key to jumble up data so it becomes incomprehensible.The person on the other end needs the key to decrypt the algorithm. It is called symmetric because it uses the same key for encrypting and decrypting. The downside to this is that you have to give the key to the other receiving party in a secure environment, because if it is intercepted the message would be found out.

 Asymmetric cryptography uses two smaller keys to encrypt. One key is public and the other is private. The message is encrypted with the recipient’s public key and it can be decrypted with their private key. This lets two entities to communicate safely without needing to exchange keys beforehand.

Encryption Algorithms

AES

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is the most trusted algorithm for encryption up to date, developed and used by the US Government and numerous other entities.

Efficient even in 128-bit form, it also comes in 192 and 256 bits for extra security.

RSA

RSA is an asymmetric algorithm encryption and a staple for encrypting data online. RSA encryption requires a lot processing power to be cracked down by attackers, and is the most secure for transmitting data over the internet due.

Blowfish

Blowfish is a symmetric algorithm that separates messages into blocks of 64 bits and individually encrypts them. Blowfish is known for being speedy and very effective and many say it never has been cracked.

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Twofish

Blowfish’s successor, Twofish uses keys that can be as long as 256 bits, and it inherited its predecessor’s speed and functionality.

Hashes

Hashes can be used in functions to authenticate and verify using encryption. A hash function makes a file a much smaller in size. By hashing a file and comparing its hash to the known good hash, you can identify if any content has been altered.

Hash Algorithms

SHA-2

Designed by the NSA, this family of two hash functions is made out of the SHA-256 which  uses 32-bit words, and SHA-512 that uses 64-bit words. Truncated versions form both functions are known as SHA-224, SHA-384, SHA-512/224 and SHA-512/256.

SHA-3

It was picked in 2012 after a public competition between non-NSA developers. Supporting the exact hash lengths as SHA-2, its internal construction is greatly different compared to the rest of the SHA family.

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