Throughout history, people have been fascinated with encryption, whether out of necessity or entertainment. Militaries have been using encrypted communication for thousands of years. We even see encryption show up in the movie, “The Christmas Story,” when Ralphie needs to use a secret decoder ring to decrypt a message from the Little Orphan Annie radio show.
There are two main types of encryption: symmetric and asymmetric. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Please note that the following is only a primer; there are volumes and volumes of referenceable text for each type and their variants.
Symmetric Encryption (Shared Keys)
Symmetric encryption is when a key is shared between both components that are doing the encryption. The same key is used for both encryption and decryption processes. This is the type of encryption that people frequently think of when asked how to encrypt something.
The symmetric encryption process has been used frequently throughout history. If a military needed to send an encrypted message, they would create a cipher by exchanging letters and numbers for other letters and numbers (e.g., A becomes X, B becomes M, and so on). Once they had their cipher created, they could then encrypt a message and send it. Only individuals with the cipher could decrypt the message. This is a strength of symmetric encryption because individuals looking in from the outside do not know how the data is encrypted….