The aim of this research is to discuss data encryption, uses of data encryption, its techniques and the issues, strengths and weaknesses of data encryption. Over time, the volume of data been sent over the web has increased thus making data security a grave concern. To say that any data is secure, its integrity, confidentiality and authenticity should be trusted. This paper will also look into the current and future trends in data encryption.
Over the years, the volume of data and information transmitted has increased, and the various channels of data transmission has been threatened by different kinds of viruses, Trojans, worms, etc. Data encryption is a process/ approach used in protecting data from malicious attacks and to maintain data integrity, data authenticity and confidentiality. Data encryption hides the original information, and sends it to the receiver. For the receiver to decipher the message, the receiver must be able to understand encryption and its techniques.
Encryption has been in existence for a very long time although it has been used in different forms. The government, businesses and individuals use encryption to ensure data integrity, authenticity and data confidentiality. Data integrity man that the data has not been modified in any form and is still secure. Data encryption has been very helpful and useful in to the army. AN example of such usefulness was during the World War II, when US intelligence successfully broke a top secret code created by the Japanese people, and was able to stop the attack on Pearl Harbor .
2. Literature Review
Over the last decades, computer processing speed has doubled as predated to everyone and half years. This shows that the code that took a much longer time to break in the past can be broken faster now. Data encryption is a process of coding or hiding information and it can only be decrypted by a person who has correct decryption key.
3. Definition of Data Encryption
Data encryption is a technique or method of transforming data from its original state to an encoded form to maintain its integrity, authenticity and confidentiality as well as protect it from malicious attacks. Gayle Ruddick defines” data encryption as an act or process of changing information into an unreadable state by using algorithms”. (Gayle Ruddick, What is Data Encryption?).
Another definition of encryption is that, “encryption is the conversion of electronic data into another form, which cannot be easily understood.” (Margaret Rouse). The main purpose of data encryption is to protect the integrity, confidentiality and authenticity of any digital or electronic data stored and transmitted over the web.
4. History of Data Encryption.
The history of data encryption can be dated back to the early BCs. In Egypt it was used to hide the meaning of inscriptions, the Spartans usually wrote sensitive message over stipes of leather wrapped around sticks. The Romans also used encryption to send messages amongst one another. Over time, data encryption became more popular amongst military forces using it as well. The best and most famous implementation of a coding machine was called German Enigma and it was used during World War II by the Germans.
5. Data Encryption Methods
We have three basic encryption methods, they are symmeric, asymmeric and hashing. The symmetric method requires the use of only one key for both the encryption and decryption of Information. The DES encryption used by the US government is the most notable case of single key. The second method is the asymmeric method which is the use of the separate keys commonly called public and private keys. The Public key is used in encrypting the message and the private key is used to decrypt the message. The third and final method is the Hashing, Hashing creates a unique, fixed-length signature for a message or data set. Hashing are created with an algorithm or has functions.
6. Data Encryption Techniques
The first technique to be discussed is Cryptography. Cryptography can be defined as the process of sending and receiving data in a hidden way, it can also be said to be “the study of hiding data”. Cryptography is generally concerned with the security of data while maintaining access control. Cryptography has five main goals which are Authentication, Privacy/confidentiality, Integrity, Non-repudiation and service reliability and availability . Cryptography has been applied in several fields of life ranging from the healthcare industry, to the academia world, and many more fields and all uses of cryptography in those fields have been successful.
The second technique is Steganography, steganography van also be called camouflaging, it is a process of hiding data in different media formats (audio, video, images and text). In the past, the hidden information used to be sent in text format, but with the available technologies recently, the information to be hidden can now be sent in different media formats. The key thing to note with steganography is that the hidden text can be sent in plain sight and cannot be detected easily, with our naked eyes we cannot view the hidden information. We have four types of steganography namely;
a) Audio/video steganography
b) Text steganography
c) Image steganography
d) Protocol steganography.
Steganography Vs Cryptography
The definitions of both steganography and cryptography have been interchanged while some believe that they mean the same thing, for the purpose of this research we would compare the two techniques to see their similarities and differences.
Goal Hides the fact of communication. Blurs the content of the communication
Characteristics a) Relies on the confidentiality of the embedding method.
b) Detection is complex.
c) Constant monitoring of exchanged data. a) Relies on the confidentiality of the key.
b) Detection is easy.
c) Reverse engineering
Countermeasures Rigid device Cryptography export laws.
(“Communications of the ACM Vol. 57 No. 3, March 2014”).
From this table, it is clear that the methods used in both of them are different, although the primary aim of both encryption methods is to hid information and still maintain the information’s integrity, they go about it in different ways
Encryption Technology Application
Encryption has been used in different fields, the trending uses of encryption are in E-commerce and VPN.
1. Encryption in E-commerce: E-commerce has been trending for a very long time, e-commerce enables people perform different commercial activities online. Security has always been an issue for the e-commerce system, using encryption, security card details and other private information can be secured from thieves and hackers.
2. Encryption in VPN: Thanks to globalization, companies and organizations can now interact from different parts of the world at any given time, with this trend a lot of companies would have to develop their personal LANs and this could be very expensive. For the companies to maximize profit and also gain from globalization, the best option would be to use routers that have encryption and decryption capabilities.
Encryption has come to stay and has grown steadily over the years. Lack of security has always been a challenge for organizations, companies and users of information in general, encryption is a method of ensuring that an information gets to its final destination and still maintain its integrity and authenticity. Encryption trends have evolved and it is my belief that lack of security would soon be a thing of the past.
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