Understanding Encryption

We all like to stay safe online but how many of us understand the processes at work? We are often familiar with terms such as encryption, but often do we know what that involves?

If you operate your own website, you may have come across terms such as OpenSSL, which is a form of secure sockets layering. This is the most common method used and, even if you don’t have your own site to worry about, you’ve likely used it when operating with other websites.

If you need to send sensitive information, such as financial information to an e-commerce site, this is one of the most common ways it is done.

For your own benefit, it helps to understand the process in a little more depth. Here is a quick overview of the basics, as well as how it further restricts access with digital signatures and public key infrastructures.

The basics

If you use websites, there is often a stream of data between you and the server and encryption serves to convert this into something more difficult to read. The simplest are around 64-bit, offering 64 different options for each character, while the top-end range at around 256-bit.

Needless to say, the more variables you have, such as with 256-bit, the more difficult it is to crack the data being transferred.

Since each website has its own encryption set-up, this helps keep you secure.

Restricting Access

If this was all there is to encryption, everyone on the server/website could access each others’ data. However, to further make things more secure, SSL also utilizes a digital signature.

This works alongside the public key infrastructure, which is what enables you to send data in the encryption. During this process, the server will add a signature of sorts as a mark. This mark lets the server know if the data has been altered along the way, since other users cannot edit or access the signature.

As such, this is one of the better forms of protection, since it actively monitors for potential trouble, and is seen in the best SSL and Code Signing Certificates available.

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