Encryption: The Backbone of Cybersecurity Strategies

In congruity with the Department of Homeland Security’s nationwide initiative to promote a unified cybersecurity effort, the National Cybersecurity Institute is hosting daily podcasts that discuss information security topics. For Week 2 of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, NCI would like to focus on the podcast entitled “Encryption.” This topic is one of the most important when it comes to combating cyberthreats and being prepared against modern cyberattacks.

What is encryption?

To keep things simple, James Antonakos of the National Cybersecurity Institute explains encryption as the process of taking data that is readable and making it unreadable to humans. Encryption is made possible by using algorithms to create complex codes out of simple data, effectively making it more difficult for cyberthieves to gain access to the information. According to Florida Tech University, encryption is the most widely used form of data security because its ciphertext and coding make it more difficult to crack than basic password protected information. To really understand encryption, however, one must take a closer look at the various types.
Symmetric vs. Asymmetric
Symmetric: This type of encryption is also frequently called “secret key encryption.” Computers use the same algorithm, or key sequence, to decode the encryption as they would have to initially encrypt the information. This is an advantage in terms of key management because there is only one code to memorize. However, because there is only one line of defense, businesses must be careful in choosing who gets access to the key.
Asymmetric: Sometimes called “public key encryption,” this method means that the cyberdefense has been built with more than one key. Typically, it is one key to encrypt the information and a separate one to decrypt the data. While managers using asymmetric encryption do not have to spend as much time worrying about key distribution, or the number of people who have access to the keys, they must pay close attention to key management. Having multiple keys can create confusion, so it is important to keep the codes organized.
Why is it important?
While cybersecurity managers may dislike encryption because it requires constant maintenance, it is often your last line of defense from cyberattack, according to Tech Republic. Even if hackers break through firewalls, passwords and anti-spyware software, encryption is still in place to keep them from viewing the protected data. Because encryption algorithms are often difficult to break, this method of cybersecurity is often the most effective.
To learn more about encryption and other topics related to cybersecurity, visit the National Cybersecurity Institute’s website today.
CATEGORIES
Current Events, Cyber Threats
KEYWORDS
cybersecurity, cyberattack, information security, cyberthreat