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What Is Encryption Technology

By Ruben Flores
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004

This section is meant to give you an overall idea of encryption technology as a full explanation of encryption technology is beyond the scope of this section. However, I have included a few resources that you can check out on the Web for more information on encryption.

What is Encryption Technology?

Encryption technology allows you to "encode" or scramble data into an unreadable form to ensure privacy. If you take a glass jar and throw it down hard on the floor (don't try this at home) what happens? It shatters into a million pieces, right. Well the same thing happens to an electronic message when it's encrypted, it's broken into a million pieces. When someone looks at an encrypted message, all they see is a bunch of symbols, letters, and numerals all mixed up. To view the encrypted message a person need a decryption key.

There are two kinds of encryption:

"Symetrical" or "Secret Key" which uses a single key to encrypt and decrypt messages.

"Asymmetrical" also called "Private Key" which uses one key to encrypt and another to decrypt.

Today's encryption software is easy to use, as simple as clicking a key or lock icon or other button and a file is encrypted or decrypted. You just have to be sure that anyone you want to be able to read your message is also using the same encryption.

Do you really need encryption?

Not necessarily. Sending and receiving e-mail is relatively safe. Why? Well consider the extraordinary volume of e-mail sent every day, so much that the U.S. Postal Service estimates that more e-mail is sent everyday than regular snail mail. Take postcards for example, with so many postcards, the chances of someone with dishonest intentions seeing yours is minimal at best. Industry statistics show that less that 10% of all e-mail is actually encrypted. In recent months, encryption has become so cheap and easy to use that pretty soon it will become a norm.

Interesting tid-bit: Pretty Good Privacy claims that the time needed to break encryption keys, using $100,000 worth of computer gear is as follows;

40-bit Encryption 2 seconds

56-bit Encryption 35 hours

64-bit Encryption 1 year

80-bit Encryption 70,000 years

112-bit Encryption 10 (x14 power) yrs.

128-bit Encryption 10 (x19 power) yrs.

The bottom line is that very few people have the computer resources and skills needed to understand and crack an encrypted message (just think of that broken jar).

For more information on encryption technology check out the following excellent resources:

**RSA Data's FAQ's about cryptography - A detailed look at encryption. You can download a PDF file or read it online. A must see site! Click Here to Visit Site

**Encryption Privacy and Security Resource Page - Get latest encryption news and Legislation articles, resources and more. Click Here to Visit Site

**Electronic Privacy Information Center - The Internet Privacy Coalition's home page for information about cryptography including recent developments in Congress. Lots of good articles and stories on encryption. Click Here to Visit Site

**"What's HOT in Encryption" Bulletins Page - Another must see page with tons of articles, stories, and links!!! Click Here to Visit Site

**Pretty Good Privacy - PGP sells consumer encryption software at a reasonable price. Is currently rated the best on the market. Click Here to Visit Site

Copyright 1999 - Ruben Flores

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