Data integrity is the most delicate aspect of any organization. It offers the reliability and security of data details throughout its life cycle. However, day after day, the number of data breaches and incidents of data forgery is increasing rapidly. Such a problem usually occurs as cybercriminals continue to try to find new sensitive strategies to victimize Internet users. To counter such a problem, there is an encryption technique that secretly protects digital data by converting plain text to encrypted text. In this way, only authorized persons can have access to your message or your data and unauthorized persons cannot.
For example, you want to send a letter to your friend to tell them that you miss them, but you don’t want someone else to open and read the message. In this guide, I will explain two different types of encryption in a simple way, i.e. Symmetrical and Asymmetric encryption.
Difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption
As noted, symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption are both forms of the encryption process. However, the fundamental difference between these two techniques is that symmetric encryption uses a single secret key while asymmetric encryption uses two different distinct keys.
Another point is that asymmetric encryption is relatively slower in the execution process. Since symmetric encryption is less complicated and runs faster, it infers a better way to transfer data in large quantities.
What is symmetric encryption
As noted earlier, symmetric encryption is a form of encryption that uses a single private key to encrypt and decrypt data. Such a way of encrypting messages had been widely used in the past to have a secret conversation between administrations and armies. It mainly uses a private key which can be a number, a letter, a symbol or a sequence of arbitrary characters such as BK5, RU-8. These words are combined with the plain text of a message so that it can change the content in a particular way. Thanks to a less complex algorithm, it executes the process faster.
Although it is said that everything has two aspects, good and bad. Similarly, symmetric encryption also has a drawback of use. And that is, the encrypted data can only be decrypted using the same secret key as the sender was used to encrypt. In simple language, the sender uses a secret key to encode the data before sending the information, right? Now the receiver should also have the same secret key to decode the encrypted message. Due to their simplistic nature, both operations can be done fairly quickly.
Let’s see the example I used above. If you used symmetric encryption to secure the message you send to your buddy, then obviously the same key will be used to encrypt and decrypt the data. But your friend does not have the private key to decrypt the message or data. In this case, you must transfer the key via a secure channel.
What is asymmetric encryption
Asymmetric encryption is an encryption model that requires a pair of two different keys, the public key and the private key. Since it uses two separate keys, it is also known as public key cryptography and that is why it is considered more secure compared to symmetric encryption.
But here you may be thinking Why does he need two keys? Well, asymmetric encryption uses a key to encode the data and this is called the public key. And this public key is accessible to everyone. Whereas asymmetric encryption uses the private key to decode the data encoded and which must be kept secret.
For example, you send greetings to your loved one and encrypt the message using a public key, then your friend can only decrypt it using the private key that belongs to you. However, if you encrypt the message using a private key, your friend will need your public key to decode it.
This cryptographic technique is relatively new and offers greater security. This is because asymmetric encryption uses two separate keys for the coding and decoding process. However, a major drawback of asymmetric encryption is that it takes longer than the process associated with symmetric encryption.
The private key is well used with an algorithm to encode and decode the data. But the main need for this key is to decrypt all information encrypted using the public key.
In data encryption, this private key is also called a secret key and must remain confidential. This means that this secret key never needs to be transferred and therefore there is no reason why it could be required by the third party.
As the name suggests, this key is publicly available. It does not require any security and is mainly used to encode information and not to decode it.
In this tutorial, I explained symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption as well as the examples in a very simple and transparent way.