The internet is a tool that is very present in our daily lives, isn’t it? It has become unquestionable how it has enhanced and eased the lives of both people in general and business. However, not everything is all fun and daisies. Just as these breakthroughs came to be, so did some vulnerabilities related to network security. Therefore, the need arose to use tools to combat this and encryption is one of them.
Nevertheless, it is unwise to think that encryption has been discovered in recent years. It emerged thousands of years ago, when it was used in a context totally outside the digital world, using the technique of coding messages in the years before Christ (a. C.).
Today, this scenario has changed and its concept is used to bring more security to internet-related devices and technology.
In this post we will discuss:
- What is encryption?
- Encryption Types
- How does encryption work?
- What can you do with encryption?
- How does email encryption work
- How is a virtual currency wallet encrypted?
What is encryption?
Starting with its definition, in a very general context. One can say that encryption is simply a data protection mechanism, which uses techniques to transform any information. In order to make it impossible to understand by people who are not authorized to access it.
Today, encryption is used to protect important data on the Internet, such as the login and password details of users on websites, banks, and other important applications. It is also widely used in the world of cryptocurrencies to protect financial and transaction-related information.
To get a better idea, with encryption, if access is intercepted by an intruder or malicious user, they will get confused with the cluttered lists and jumbled up characters.
There are 2 main types of encryption: symmetric and asymmetric. The first is the most common of all and assumes that a key is used to protect the information you wish to keep. To access this information, you just basically have the same code – this type of encryption was used at the time of World War II.
On the other hand, asymmetric – or end-to-end encryption – uses two different keys to protect information. Although distinct, they complement each other so you need both to make this process work. That is, there is a public code to encrypt information and a private code to decrypt.
How does encryption work?
In practice, within the online world, encryption has the role of ensuring security in an environment where messages, information, and files are sent from one user to another or made available from one user to a website.
When we send an email, for example, encryption helps ensure that that message is not intercepted. The key is used to “scramble” the information so that it is not discovered – you will also need a key to do the decryption process.
Be aware that this is the most efficient way to conceal any communication that needs to be done through codes, where both the sender and the recipient have the key to deciphering this data.
What can you do with encryption?
Now that you know what encryption is and how it works, let’s take a look at some practical real-life scenarios in which it can be utilised. You’ll find that with it you can protect both your data and your internet connection.
Securing your connection
Using Wi-Fi to connect to the internet is probably the most common thing that one does in the 21st century. But be aware that, in terms of security, it is not very safe as it is not difficult for any user to intercept your connection. Many still do not understand how serious this is as this can bring catastrophic results to the network and its users, such as stealing important or confidential information.
For this reason, many websites use some protocols to encrypt these exchanges of information between their address and users, such as the famous HTTPS protocol. While this protocol alone is not 100% reliable, it is already a major obstacle for malicious users. This greatly reduces the risk of any network intrusion as well as access to your information since all the data and information exchanged can only be decoded by the site to which it was sent.
Protecting your data
Using encryption to protect your data is also one of the possibilities of this tool. Even though there is user awareness of creating backups and using best practices for securely storing passwords, it offers something beyond that: it helps ensure all the privacy you need.
After all, we live in the information age and data is considered a very important asset for both people and businesses. To get an idea, many businesses invest a lot in the security of their information, as there is a lot of confidential information at stake. It becomes a matter of survival in the market.
Therefore, using encryption can be a great way to protect your data, especially when it comes to intellectual property issues. In today’s world, for example, there is a type of algorithm called the “endpoint encryption” that adds an extra layer of protection to this sensitive information on your computer or any other type of storage devices such as CDs, flash drives, DVDs and others.
How does email encryption work?
Now, we will go into a slightly more advanced stage in the world of encryption. And talk about how this tool can be applied to one of the most widely used features on the internet: email.
We know that email can be a great gateway for sending viruses and other malicious files. The good news is that you can make messages more reliable than they already are by using an “extra” layer of encryption.
Today, there is a particular type of software to make emails safer by using encryption. Its method is quite simple. The process starts by creating a pair of security keys, which are composed of a public key and a private key.
The public key should be sent directly from the recipients to the senders who can open the email. This way both sides will know that there was no kind of interception of the messages that are exchanged.
Sharing the public key
Because of this, a very pertinent question arises: how does one share the public key? This can be done in two ways:
- making it available on a key server;
- sending it as an attachment to the email to anyone who needs to use it.
The second option is considered to be more secure and is already available in some software that has the function of managing email.
Decoding the Email
Once someone has the public key that corresponds to the email. This email will be sent to a recipient, just use it to apply this layer of encryption. That way, once the recipient receives the message, they can use the code to decrypt what was received in their email. Simple, right?
How is a virtual currency wallet encrypted?
Entering the world of virtual currencies, encryption is very much present. As one could have easily noticed, the term ‘crypto’ in cryptocurrencies comes from the word ‘encryption’. Hence, the name!
Furthermore, we need to point out that Blockchain’s technology is also based on encryption. If you do not know it yet, it is one of the crypto-economics main assets. So we want into detail here how a virtual currency wallet works.
Encryption Key Monitoring
The key to this process is that a virtual currency wallet monitors the encryption keys that are used to authorize transactions. Also, the wallet stores the address of the assets in a particular block on the blockchain network. This makes it much safer to store cryptocurrencies. As they will be better protected within a wallet rather than, for example, on an exchange account.
Hardware-based portfolios work offline as they reside in a piece of hardware. That is purely for the wallet, there is no operating system, nothing. Thus, it will hardly ever be breached.
You can see how important encryption is to make all our online activities secure, right?