What is Symmetric Encryption?

Symmetric encryption is a class of encryption that uses a single key (a secret key) to encrypt and decrypt electronic data. 

What is symmetric encryption?

Symmetric encryption uses a single key (a secret key) to encrypt and decrypt electronic data. The key must be exchanged between the organizations communicating using symmetric encryption to be utilized in the decryption process. This encryption method is distinct from asymmetric encryption, which employs a pair of public and private keys to encrypt and decrypt messages.

Data is “scrambled” using symmetric encryption techniques so that it cannot be comprehended by anyone who does not have the secret key to decode it. Once the message has been delivered to the appropriate recipient with the key, the algorithm reverses its action and returns the message to its original readable form. The sender and recipient’s secret key could be a specific password/code or a random string of letters or numbers created using a secure random number generator (RNG). This level of encryption helps prevent a data breach

What do you mean by symmetric cipher?

Ciphers, often known as encryption algorithms, are data encryption and decryption processes. A cipher uses a key to decide how to turn the original communication, plaintext, into ciphertext.

Ciphers, also referred to as algorithms, can be symmetric or asymmetric. Symmetric ones employ the same key (secret or private key) to convert plaintext to ciphertext and vice versa.

What is asymmetric encryption?

Asymmetric encryption techniques encrypt and decode using two distinct keys. The public key is used for encryption, and the private key is used for decryption. The receiver must own both keys.

Asymmetric encryption requires two independent keys to encrypt and decode data, whereas symmetric encryption uses the same key for both. Even though symmetric encryption is faster and easier to use than asymmetric encryption, it is less secure. If the key is compromised, the data is decrypted. Asymmetric encryption, however, is more secure since data remains protected even if one of the keys is compromised.

A simple example of symmetric encryption

Symmetric encryption techniques are classified into two types:

  • Algorithms for blocking. Set lengths of bits are encrypted in electronic data blocks using a unique secret key. While the data is encrypted, the system stores it in memory while waiting for complete blocks.
  • Algorithms for streams. Data is encrypted as it flows instead of being stored in the system’s memory.

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), formerly known as Rijndael, is the most widely used symmetric algorithm. This standard was established by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2001 for electronic data encryption. This standard replaces DES, which has been in use since 1977.

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