Sat. Jan 21st, 2023

Principles and uses of encryption

Encryption can be categorised as either:

Symmetric encryption

Public key encryption (asymmetric)

Uses of encryption

It should be evident by now that there are a great deal of ways in which data security can be impacted. The majority of these threats can be mitigated through the use of encryption; whilst it may not always be possible to completely prevent user error (e.g. loss, leaving a laptop or USB lying about), if the information is appropriately encrypted, the impact of its loss can be hugely reduced. As long as a secure key is used to encrypt the data, it should remain safe even in the event of its loss.

Another common use for encryption is in the HTTPS protocol. Normally, HTTP is used to govern and control the exchange of data between a client and a webserver. However, this data is unencrypted, meaning anyone who intercepts traffic between a client and the server will be able to clearly read that data: this could include the names of pages that the user is viewing, but also any additional data, such as user credentials. HTTPS ensures that even if the traffic is intercepted, it will be meaningless to all but the intended recipient. HTTPS is the technology that has enabled the vast majority of what we use on the Internet.

See the section on applications of cryptography for further examples and explanations.