The electronic age has brought forth many technological advances. With these advances came the need for security and tighter control on how we send information electronically over the Internet or through a network. Date encryption is, in its simplest terms, the translation of data into a secret code. In order to read an encrypted file, the receiver of the file must obtain a secret key that will enable him to decrypt the file. A deeper look into cryptography, cryptanalysis, and the Data Encryption Standard (DES) will provide a better understanding of data encryption. Cryptographic Methods There are two standard methods of cryptography, asymmetric encryption and symmetric encryption. Data that is in its original form (unscrambled) is called plaintext. Once the data is scrambled and in its encrypted form it is called cipher text. The cipher text, which should be unintelligible to anyone not holding the encryption key, is what is stored in the database or transmitted down the communication line. Asymmetric encryption (also know as public key encryption) uses two separate keys, a public key and a private key. The private key is available only to the individual receiving the encrypted message. The public key is available to anyone who wishes to send data or communicate to the holder of the private key. Asymmetric encryption is considered very safe but is susceptible to private key theft or breaking of the private key (this is virtually impossible and would constitute trying billions of possible key combinations) (4). Types of public key algorithms include Riverst-Shamir-Adelman (RSA), Diffie-Hellman, Digital Signature Standard (DSS), EIGamal, and LUC (5). Symmetric encryption uses only one key (a secret key) to encrypt and decrypt the message. No public exchange of the key is required. This method is vulnerable if the key is stolen or if the ciphertext is broken (4). Types of symmetric algorithms include DES, Blowfish, International Data Encryption Algorithm...
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