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What is Encryption? Definition, Types, Uses and More

What is Encryption? Definition, Types, Uses and More

Definition Encryption

Encryption. A method that increases the security of a message or a file by encoding the content, so that it can only be read by the person who has the appropriate encryption key to decode it. For example, if you purchase over the Internet, the transaction information (such as your address, telephone number, and credit card is usually encrypted to keep it safe.

Some viruses automatically encrypt or code themselves, each time they perform a new infection. This operation consists of performing mathematical operations on each of the sections of the virus content. The result is the modification of the virus code, which makes it difficult to detect it by the antivirus.

Historical circumstances

The legal status of crypto programs varies by country, and the laws governing the use and trade of these programs evolve rapidly. Dr. Bert-Japp Koops, professor of regulation and technology at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), of the University of Tilburg , The Netherlands , maintains resources on the regulation of cryptography on the Crypto Law website Survey , where he has written the description of the historical framework and its evolution.


Generally, the purpose of encryption is to preserve confidentiality both in the transmission of information and in its storage.

Although with specific techniques, it is possible to guarantee.

Besides, the integrity of the information and the non-repudiation of the same, which involves certifying that nobody has altered the signed document and that the signer is who he says he is.

It is a fundamental technology in electronic transactions

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Encryption Methods and Techniques

Substitution encryption

Substitution consists of replacing one or more entities (usually letters) of a message with one or more different objects.

There are several types of substitution cryptosystems:

  • The monoalphabetic substitution consists of replacing each of the letters of the message with another letter of the alphabet.
  • The polyalphabetic substitution consists of using a series of monoalphabetic ciphers that are periodically used.
  • The homophonic substitution makes it possible for each of the letters of the plain text message to correspond to a potential group of different characters.
  • Polygraphic substitution acts replacing a group of characters in a message with another group of characters.

César encryption

Cesar is one of the oldest since its use dates back to Julio César. The encryption principle is based on the addition of a constant value to all the characters of a message or, more precisely, to its ASCII code.

ROT 13 encryption

The specific case of César where the encryption key is N (the 13th letter of the alphabet) is called ROT 13? (number 13, half of 26, was chosen to make it possible to easily encrypt and decrypt text messages).

Transposition encryption

The method of encryption by transposition is to reorder data to encrypt it to make it unintelligible. This may mean, for example, rearranging the data geometrically to make them visually unusable.

Symmetric encryption

Also known as private key or secret key encryption, it consists of using the same key for encryption and decryption.

This encryption consists of applying an operation (an algorithm ) to the data that you want to encrypt using the private key to make them unintelligible. The most straightforward algorithm (as an exclusive OR ) can make a system virtually fake-proof (assuming that absolute security does not exist).

Asymmetrical Encryption

Asymmetric (also known as public-key encryption). In an asymmetric cryptosystem (or crucial public cryptosystem), the keys are given in pairs:

  • A public key for encryption.
  • A secret key for decryption.

In a public-key encryption system, users choose a random key that only they know (this is the private key). From this key, an algorithm (the public key) is automatically deduced. Users exchange this public key through an unsecured channel.

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Encryption Modes

The encryption and mode used are chosen randomly between the standard encryption between the two servers. Ensure that all server and client systems that participate in encrypted communication have encryption and modalities in common. Encryption is more secure if more types of encryption and modes among which the database server can switch are included. For information on how to change between ciphers, see section Switching frequency.

The Data Encryption Standard (DES) is a cryptographic algorithm designed to encrypt and decrypt data using 8-byte blocks and a 64-bit key.

Triple DES (DES3) is a variation in which 64-bit keys are used for a 192-bit key. DES3 works by first encrypting plain text using the first 64 bits of the key. Then the encrypted version is decrypted using the next part of the key. In the final step, the resulting encrypted text is re-encrypted using the last part of the key.

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a replacement algorithm used by the United States government.

Two encryption modalities are:

  • Block mode, an encryption method in which the message is divided into blocks and encryption is done individually in each block. Since each block is at least 8 bytes long, the block mode allows 64-bit arithmetic dignity in the encryption algorithm.
  • Sequence mode, an encryption method in which each byte is encrypted individually. It is generally considered a weak form of encryption.

Blowfish is blocking encryption that works in blocks of data of 64 bits (8 bytes). It uses a variable-size key, although 128-bit (16-byte) keys are usually considered suitable for secure encryption. Blowfish can be used in the same modalities as DES.

Important is strongly recommended not to specify specific ciphers. For security reasons, all encryption must be allowed. If encryption is discovered, it has a weak point, and you can exclude it.

Use the album option to list the encryption and modes that should be excluded. Include the album list in square brackets (<>). The list may include abbreviated exclusive entries. For example, bf can represent bf1bf2, and bf3 . However, if the abbreviation is the name of real encryption, then only that encryption will be removed. Therefore, decently removes the DES encryption, but to eliminate desede, and DESX.

The following des, ede,  and desx encryption are supported.

Encryption Explanation Blowfish Encryption Explanation
des DES (64-bit key) bf1 Blowfish (64-bit key)
ede Triple DES bf2 Blowfish (128-bit key)
desx Extended DES (128-bit key) bf3 Blowfish (192-bit key)

ImportantDesx encryption can only be used in CBC mode.

The following AES ciphers are supported.

Encryption Explanation
aes AES (128-bit key)
aes128 AES (128-bit key)
aes192 AES (192-bit key)
aes256 AES (256-bit key)

The following modalities are supported.

Modality Explanation
ECB Electronic Code Book
CBC Cipher Block Chaining
cfb Cipher Feedback
of Output Feedback

Since the ECB mode is considered weak, it is only included if specifically requested. It is not included in all lists.

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End to End encryption anchor link

End-to-end encryption protects messages in transit from the sender to the receiver. It guarantees that the information becomes a secret message by its original sender (the first “end”) and is only decoded by its final recipient (the second “end”). No one, including the application you are using, can “listen” and access your activity.

Accessing end-to-end encrypted messages in an application on your device means that the app itself cannot read them. This is a fundamental characteristic of proper encryption: even the people who design and implement it cannot break it by themselves.

In Digital Self-Protection Against Surveillance, we offer guides for the use of end-to-end encryption tools in our guide Communicating with others.

Encryption Uses

Store files on the computer

According to security experts, it is not necessary to encrypt all data on a computer, but the most confidential ones, such as medical records and financial documents, must be protected. In this way, if your computer or laptop is stolen, or an intruder accesses it, they will not be able to see or take your personal information, such as social security number, account information or other data that may lead to Identity Theft.

The software that can encrypt files on the hard disk of a computer includes a series of products PGP from PGP Corp or SecureZIP of PKWare. The newest machines and laptops that come with specific versions of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system have preinstalled software for encryption systems and user files.

Encode information sent in an email or a document:

If you use email software, such as Microsoft Outlook, the same encryption program that you use to protect files on your hard drive can also protect email and instant messages.

It is making purchases on the Internet in a secure way:

Banks, stores and other companies that sell products or make financial transactions on the Internet using a more robust form of encryption called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This type of encryption protects the electronic path that connects your web browser with the computers that host e-commerce websites.

Protect the wireless home Internet network:

The newest models of wireless home networks that connect computers to the Internet come with encryption software so neighbors cannot intervene in the system or online sessions or steal their personal information.

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