Data and information security is now more important than ever. Data encryption is a widely prevalent tool for protecting information from the time it is sent to the point that it is received. Only the person or computer with the decryption key can see that message as it was written, making it very difficult to break or intercept.
There are two different types of commonly used encryption methods. One of them is symmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption basically has to know between which two computers the message is being relayed to, and thereby sending both the sending and receiving party the key to decoding the message. Public key encryption is also known as asymmetric key encryption. Here, the private key is known by your computer, or the sending computer, while the public key is given out to the computer that it is in correspondence with. In order for the receiving computer to decrypt the incoming message, it must use both the public key that it received as well as the private key from the sending party. Both keys are needed, thus making it still very secure regardless if an outside party has access to the public key. The two keys together are based on prime number, and since there are an infinite number of prime number, the system is very secure. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a popular implementation of asymmetric encryption. To know if you are using a secure protocol, then in your browser at the top write where the url is, http might be replaced by http, or there might to a green lock symbol to relay the fact that there is extra security measures which is typically seen will secure sights such as when accessing bank account information. A lot of systems use a combination of symmetric and asymmetric encryption since asymmetric encryption uses a lot of computing power. At the end of each session, the computer discards the symmetric key that was used in that session and generates a new one. The strength of the encryption is based on the size of the key, so the larger the key, the stronger the encryption. However large keys use up a lot of computing power.