4 Cryptographic Techniques Used in Cyber-Security
Modern networks and data exchange paths require security measures as an essential requisite. This is partly due to the advanced cyber-attack methods and techniques prevalent today, and partly due to the massive amounts of data being transferred across similarly massive networks.
Additionally, with more inventive hacking capabilities coming to the fore in tandem with global cyber-expansion, securing data and systems, whether in storage or transit, is becoming progressively more important.
Cryptography-centric Data Protection Techniques
By far the most successful method of securing data, historically and today, is cryptographic encryption. Towards the accelerated cyber-security needs of today, in particular, modern cryptographic techniques contribute significantly.
To that end, following are 4 cryptographic techniques used by for cyber-security, worldwide.
3DES, or Triple Data Encryption Standard, is a block cipher and a more modern standard. It is quite similar to the previous encryption method of the same type, namely Data Encryption Standard, a method that uses 56-bit keys. Triple Data Encryption Standard is different, in that it uses symmetric-key encryption, using 3 distinct 56-bit keys. This method encrypts data a full 3 times, which basically turns your singular 56-bit key into a 168-bit key.
While the thrice-encrypted data is more secure while stored or during transition, the method itself is not as fast as other cryptographic techniques. Also, since the method uses block lengths that are shorter in comparison, it is easier for experienced hackers to decrypt valuable data and leak it.
Business institutions and financial firms most commonly use this encryption method, as they did the previous iterations. The method is also commonly used for electronic payments.
Twofish is based on the earlier version of the block cipher, namely Blowfish. Essentially, it is also a symmetric block cipher, with a block size ranging from 128 to 256 bits. The method works best for smaller CPUs as well as low-level hardware. Just like the AES system, it puts rounds of encryption into effect, to transform plain text into cipher text. Unlike AES though, the rounds of encryption do not vary. Regardless of the size of the keys, the encryption rounds always number sixteen.
This cryptographic technique is more flexible, due to the option of selecting key setup and encryption process rate. You can set the key setup to run quickly and the encryption process to run slower, and vice versa. It can also be used as often as desired, since it does not require a license and has no restrictions.
AES, or Advanced Encryption Standard, is one of the most secure encryption methods, being a symmetric encryption algorithm. The method makes use of a block cipher which fixes data at the rate of one at a time, with fixed size blocks. This is unlike other encryption forms which encrypt data in small batches. An example of the latter would be stream ciphers.
AES consists of AES-256, AES-192, AES-128 key bits. The key bit that you choose for your encryption task encrypts blocks in 128 to 256 bits. There are 10 rounds for 128-bit, 12 rounds for 192-bit, and 14 rounds for 256-bit. Because AES uses symmetric key encryption, the key needs to be shared with other parties, to enable them to access the data which has been encrypted.
Additionally, if there is no safe way to secure the key, and any unauthorized parties get access, they will potentially be able to decrypt the entirety of the data, with that particular key.
Overall though, AES is secure and cannot be broken through easily. The United States Government makes use of AES for the protection of sensitive information and classified data. Several hardware and software products come with this cryptographic method as standard.
Named after the three researchers who first described it (Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Len Adelman), the RSA algorithm utilizes public-key cryptography to transmit data through an unsafe network. It is an asymmetric cryptography algorithm, meaning that it functions on two distinct keys, namely the Private Key and Public Key. The former key needs to always be confidential; however, the latter is as the name suggests – public. While using this form of cryptography, you require both keys to gain access to encrypted data. One of the keys can be used to encrypt the data; with the other being used to decrypt it.
RSA is comparatively secure, since it factors big integers that are derived from a pair of large prime numbers. The key size is also bigger, which enhances the security of the algorithm. The majority of RSA keys are in the 1024 to 2048-bit range. Despite the longer key size, the encryption method is no slower than other techniques.
Using Tried and Tested Cryptographic Methods for Consistent Data Security
Although there are many cryptographic methods in use, for a wide range of information security applications, using the most tested and trusted techniques and algorithms is better, for more consistent and seamless data security. Granted that there are no truly foolproof methods in existence; securing your data through one of the aforementioned techniques pays dividends in the long run.
For potential data security professionals, advanced cyber security training can be very advantageous, due to both the diverse and well-populated training options available today, and the lucrative nature of the position. And, since data and cyber-security is part of the requisite skill set of IT professionals, cyber security training can enhance said skill set.