Password and encryption are two synonymous concepts. Both password and encryption are performed to keep data safe. Our digital data including communication can be compromised if not stored safely. Malware, hacking, and phishing are common forms of infiltrating into a system to illegally gather data.
We have to think of our users' passwords as sensitive personal data, hence their passwords are their key to their privacy. Password encryption prevents hacking of password altogether.
What is Password Encryption?
Password encryption is the translation of login data into a secret code. The industry-standard encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security because to read an encrypted password requires decryption.
The very word cryptography has Greek origins. “Kryptos” means hidden and “Graphein” – word.
There are two main types of encryption: asymmetric encryption (also called public-key encryption) and symmetric encryption.
Encryption has been fervently used by militaries to facilitate secret communication. With the advent of the internet for public use, it is now commonly used in protecting information.
The Computer Security Institute reported that in 2007, 71% of companies surveyed utilized encryption for some of their data in transit, and 53% utilized encryption for some of their data in storage
Is password protection a form of encryption?
Although both signify the protection of data, password protection and encryption can differ in many ways.
Encryption is the conversion of electronic data into another form, called cipher-text, which cannot be easily understood by anyone except authorized parties.
The purpose of encryption is to protect the digital data stored on certain computer, system, or server such as email and digital storage sites using the algorithm. It alters the underlying character string of a file so that it cannot be (easily) comprehended. Encrypting data requires a mechanism to reconstruct the character string that is typically done using a password. Only the authorized user can decrypt the file using various forms of combinations such as fingerprint, retina scan, or patterns.
Password protection is a security protocol designed to protect data that is stored on a certain computer, system, or server. It acts as a thin layer between your data and device. It allows only those with an authorized password to gain access to certain information. Unlike encryption, password protection uses key combinations that can be altered by a sound hacker.
How does a password function to protect an encrypt file?
The password encryption method is a step up from password protection. The term can be a tad confusing because, in fact, you cannot encrypt the password itself. Instead, by setting up "password encryption" you are creating a password AND encrypting the contents of the file.
The most basic of encryption is the key. A key is required to decrypt any encrypted file.
Encryption Keys are usually generated with random number generators or algorithms that mimic random number generators.
Symmetric key cryptography or symmetric encryption is a type of encryption that uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt messages. An example of a symmetric key is the German military's Enigma Machine that was used during WWII which was deciphered by the Allies.
The same key is used to encrypt and decrypt the so-called plaintext that represents the message or piece of data that is being encoded.
Public-key encryption is a cryptographic system that uses two keys. A public key is known to everyone and a private key known only to the recipient.
Other Important factors for encryption are as follows;
Cipher is an algorithm used for encryption or decryption. There are two main types of ciphers namely block ciphers and stream ciphers.
The algorithm is a mathematical procedure for performing encryption on data. Through an algorithm, the information is made into meaningless ciphertext and requires the use of a key to transforming the data back into its original form.
The process of switching unreadable ciphertext to readable information using the key.
Cryptanalysis is the study of ciphers and cryptosystems to find weaknesses in them.
Frequency analysis is the technique used to crack a cipher. Although this method was effective in cracking old encryption methods, it is ineffective against modern encryption.
Different types of Encryption
There are five major types of encryption.
Data Encryption Standard (DES)
The Data Encryption Standard or DES is a symmetric-key algorithm for the encryption of electronic data. It is an original US Government encryption standard which was known to be unbreakable. The increase in computing power and a decrease in the cost of hardware has rendered 56-bit encryption essentially obsolete.
TripleDES is also known as 3DES or TDES is a more secure version of DES. TripleDES bulks up the encryption procedure by running DES three times. It uses 168, 112 or 56 bits.
It has three keying options:
Keying Option 1: All three keys are independent. This method offers the strongest key strength: 168-bit.
Keying Option 2: Key 1 and Key 2 are independent, while Key 3 is the same as Key 1. This method offers an effective
key strength of 112 bits (2×56=112).
Keying Option 3: All three keys are the same. This method offers a 56-bit key.
RSA is named after its creators Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman. It is one of the first public-key cryptosystems and is widely used for secure data transmission, however, is rather slow so it's hardly used to encrypt data.
In such a cryptosystem, the encryption key is public and it is different from the decryption key which is kept secret.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is the trusted US Government encryption standard and came after the failure of DES.
It is based on the Rijndael algorithm developed by two Belgian cryptographers, Joan Daemen, and Vincent Rijmen. Each cipher encrypts and decrypts data in blocks of 128 bits using cryptographic keys of 128-, 192- and 256-bits, respectively.
Twofish is a symmetric key block cipher with a block size of 128 bits and key sizes up to 256 bits. Security experts regard Twofish as one of the fastest encryption algorithms and is an excellent choice for both hardware and software. Furthermore, the Twofish cipher is free for use by anyone.
Out of these five encryption methods, AES, Twofish, and 3DES are considered the most secure encryption methods.
How to create an encryption algorithm?
Creating an encryption algorithm follows a standard procedure.
i. Design the algorithm
A general algorithm is the backbone of all encryption methods. You should know for what purposes do you want to design a custom encryption algorithm.
RSA uses mathematical properties of large prime numbers to quickly and safely encrypt private data. You should do research on various types of encryption algorithms, like private and public-key encryption.
ii. Test your algorithm
Testing the algorithm is a standard way to assess if your algorithm is strong enough. Once you have designed a good algorithm, you should try encrypting a very short message by hand. A rule of thumb is that, if you can encrypt the message in your head then it is not safe for serious encryption.
iii. Consider decryption
Decryption is generally the reverse process of encryption. It is the process of decoding the data which has been encrypted into a secret format.
iv. Draft the pseudocode
Once you’ve successfully created the algorithm, you should prepare a notation resembling a simplified programming language. The pseudocode should be easy to read or comprehend for a normal person to understand.
Password Encryption Tools
Password-based encryption (PBE) is password encryption in java. A password is chosen and is used along with a generated salt (key) to encrypt. Then the same password is used along with the salt again to decrypt the file.
PHP hashing function allows for password encryption in PHP.