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Saturday 21 October 2017
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Data Security and Cryptography: What You Need to Know

Data technology is becoming mainstream. Today, data is becoming our identity, and we are creating it at a wild pace. However, how can we tell that the data we produce and store is secure?

For any business, using advanced technology is a big plus, but as TechGroup, a Miami based IT support company points out, advanced tech can become quite difficult to handle, making it almost impossible to do things like securely produce and store data.

Cryptography is a process used to secure data. However, there is a wide range of its understanding which is very shocking. This article will explain cryptography and point out the things you need to know about it in relation to data security.

Cryptography is not Security but is an important part of it

Cryptography is the method used to transform data into something which can only be read by the authorized parties. Cryptography and encryption are used interchangeably by many users, but their difference is subtle. Encryption refers to the act while cryptography refers to the math.

Hashing is an important tool used every day and was presented to us by cryptography. When hashing is combined with encryption, they form the bedrock of data security.

Data security is, however, more than encryption. Security is a process which requires encryption. Security involves some factors like regulations, vulnerabilities, user policies, risk management and privacy amongst others.

Let’s compare this to our houses; security is needed to protect the home while encryption is the lock in the front door. It will be useless to close the door while you have left the back window open.

Encryption keeps unauthorized parties at bay as only the authorized people can access the document.

Encryption is better at protecting files and electronic documents than Passwords
Many people use passwords to protect their websites. Others use passwords to protect documents like PDF or Microsoft Word.

 

Passwords and encryption keys play the same role – protect your data from unauthorized access. Anyone with the password can access the data. However, security offered by password can be faulted at times.

When you use a password, you don’t encrypt the rest of the document. Yes, it is protected but not encrypted. Hackers can bypass the password very easily and access the documents in your file. Files protected by passwords are very vulnerable and can be compromised very easily. Basically, passwords don’t provide enough security to files and electronic documents.

There are actually two types of Encryption

Just like the way you could be having different locks in your house, there are different types of encryption. However, they are not many as you think – they are only two, Asymmetric and Symmetric. Each type is a complementary to each other and has its application too.

Symmetric Encryption – using a Symmetric Key

This can be compared to a regular house lock key. Typically, a house lock key exhibits symmetric behavior. This is because the same key is used to lock and unlock the house. Symmetric key encryption works the same; it is used to encrypt data and is also used to decrypt the data.

Asymmetric Encryption – using Asymmetric Keys

Asymmetric keys are very cool. Here two keys, also known as key pair are used to encrypt the document.  The key pair has two different encryption keys but is somehow related to each other.

 

The idea behind the key pair is one key is used to encrypt the file and the other to decrypt the file. It doesn’t matter the key used, if one encrypts the data, the other is used to decrypt the data.  

Encryption and Hashing are the basis for Certificates and Signatures

Have you ever wondered what the green lock icon or the green bar in your computer represents? Have you ever heard of digital certificates? What about code signing certificates? Certificate authorities? TLS/SSL?

It’s much possible that you are conversant with some of the above. The notable thing is, all these applications leverage the core concepts of Hashing and encryption in one way or another. With this, it doesn’t matter the type of signature, identity or certificate.



Sean is content specialist for an IT firm. Sean is a dreamer, idea generator and teller of stories. Sean is also a Basketball fan, traveler and vintage furniture lover.