Data Encryption is a term used in cryptography to define the process of transforming your data or information into an unreadable format by using a special algorithm known as Cipher that makes your information inaccessible to anyone who does not know your correct password or key. This process of transforming information into unreadable format by using a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure will result in encrypted information or encrypted files which in cryptography called as Cipher text.
In cryptography, the term encryption is also being implicitly used to refer the process of decryption i.e., the process of decoding data that has been encrypted into a secret format. Decryption requires a password or a secret key.
In the early 1970’s, the encryption algorithm were symmetric which means the key used to encrypt files and folders was the same as the key used to decrypt your information. In 1977, two American mathematicians W. Diffie and M. E. Hellman introduced the asymmetric algorithm that requires two keys which are mathematically related but cannot be deduced from one another. One key is used to encrypt data and the other key is used for decrypting the encrypted data or information.
The benefit of using this asymmetric algorithm in data encryption process is that compromising one of the keys is not enough to break the cipher and thus fewer unique keys must be generated. This is the reason why many data encryption software are using asymmetric algorithm to encrypt and decrypt your data.
There are many types of data encryption algorithm but not all are reliable. Initially 64-bit encryption was used that was proved wrong when 128-bit encryption was introduced. Advanced Encryption Algorithm (AES) is the new standard used by many data encryption software worldwide and is consider as the most secure and reliable algorithm. AES allows maximum of 256-bits.
Encryption algorithm is considered to be practically secure and reliable technique to protect your data. Although there are theoretical attacks and some theoretical weaknesses in the cipher, but they are unfeasible to mount in practice.
In the recent years with the advancement of technology, old ciphers have also been replaced by the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Furthermore, Data Encryption Standard (DES) has also been backed away as a standard by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (National Bureau of Standards).
In cryptography, there are some cases where a key is required to be developed specifically for the use of some special persons, while on the other hand some encryption protocols are standardized so that people can easily communicate with each other without requiring any special key.
The requirement of a personalized or special key makes cracking a bit harder as it would not be a standardized key. The use of such types of personal keys were once thought to be the only way to encrypt data, but with the introduction of shared key encryption people are now allowed to exchange information about a key across an open network without disclosing the contents of the key itself.
In conclusion, data encryption is now considered as the best approach to protect your confidential information because it transform information into an unreadable format that cannot be read without knowing the special key or a password.