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Lesson 7 Applied encryption processes
Objective Describe the application of encryption to security.

Application of Encryption to Security

Encryption is a fundamental technique in modern information security, providing confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity to data and communications. It transforms plaintext data into ciphertext using an algorithm and a secret key, rendering it unreadable to unauthorized users. The application of encryption to security can be categorized into the following areas:
  1. Data-at-rest encryption: Protecting stored data is crucial for organizations handling sensitive information, such as personal, financial, or healthcare records. Data-at-rest encryption ensures that data is encrypted when stored on physical devices, servers, or cloud storage systems. Unauthorized users cannot access or read the encrypted data without the proper decryption key. Data-at-rest encryption is employed in various scenarios, including full-disk encryption, database encryption, and file-level encryption.
  2. Data-in-transit encryption: Data transmitted over networks is vulnerable to interception, eavesdropping, and tampering. Data-in-transit encryption is employed to secure data during transmission between systems, clients, and servers. Encrypted communication protocols, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), utilize encryption to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data exchanged between parties.
  3. Secure key management: Effective key management is essential for maintaining the security of encrypted data. Secure key generation, storage, distribution, and rotation help prevent unauthorized access to encryption keys and reduce the risk of key compromise. Asymmetric encryption techniques, such as the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol, can be employed to securely exchange symmetric keys used for data encryption between parties.
  4. Digital signatures and certificates: Asymmetric encryption enables the creation of digital signatures, which provide data integrity, authenticity, and non-repudiation. By signing a message or document with their private key, a sender can prove the authenticity and integrity of the data. Recipients can verify the signature using the sender's public key. Digital certificates, issued by Certificate Authorities (CAs), bind public keys to the identities of their owners, further enhancing trust and security in digital communications.
  5. User authentication and access control: Encryption plays a vital role in user authentication and access control systems. Passwords and other sensitive credentials can be encrypted and securely stored in databases, preventing unauthorized access in case of a security breach. Furthermore, encryption can be employed in multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanisms, such as one-time passwords (OTPs) or secure communication between hardware tokens and authentication servers.
  6. Secure email communication: Encryption can be applied to secure email communications, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information exchanged between parties. Protocols such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) provide end-to-end email encryption, protecting messages from eavesdropping and tampering during transmission.

The application of encryption to security is extensive and plays a critical role in protecting data and communication in various contexts. By employing encryption techniques for data-at-rest, data-in-transit, key management, digital signatures, user authentication, and secure email communication, organizations can safeguard their sensitive information and enhance overall security posture.

Ensemble of Encryption Types

Most modern dynamic encryption uses a combination of symmetric encryption[1], asymmetric encryption[2] and one-way encryption[3] or hash[4] encryption. This combination capitalizes on the strengths of each type of encryption, while minimizing their weaknesses.

Applied Cryptography

Encryption techniques are used to achieve: Data confidentiality by encryption[5] and decryption. Authentication by using public-key encryption[6] , certificates[7] or digital signatures[8]. Data integrity by using message digests[9] or hash algorithms[10] Nonrepudiation using digital signatures[11]

Encryption protocols

Programs such as IIS, Netscape Suite Spot, Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), Exchange Server, and Windows NT, as well as protocols such as Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (S/MIME)[12] and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)[13] all employ a combination of symmetric, asymmetric and hash encryption. Methods such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)[14] and protocols such as Secure HTTP (SHTTP)[15] also use such combinations. Encrypting a message digest with a private key creates a digital signature, which is an electronic means of authentication.
Encryption authentication processes

Firewall Strategies - Exercise

Click the Exercise link below to review methods used to secure email.
Firewall Strategies - Exercise

[1] Symmetric encryption : A type of encryption where the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt the message.
[2] Asymmetric encryption:A type of encryption that uses one key to encrypt a message and another to decrypt the message. (Also, public-key encryption)
[3] One-way encryption: A type of encryption where information is encrypted once and cannot be decrypted and is typically used for creating message digests.
[4] Hash algorithm: A numeric function which mixes the ordering of input values to hopefully get an even distribution. (Also, hash function)
[5] Encryption: The process of disguising a message to make it unreadable by humans. The resulting data is called ciphertext.
[6] Public-key encryption: A cryptographic system that uses two keys a public key known to everyone and a private or secret key known only to the recipient of the message.
[7] Certificate: An attachment to an electronic message used for security purposes. A digital certificate is commonly used to verify that a user sending a message is who he or she claims to be, and to provide the receiver with the means to encode a reply.
[8] Digital signature: A digital code that can be attached to an electronically transmitted message that uniquely identifies the sender. Like a written signature, the purpose of a digital signature is to guarantee that the individual sending the message really is who he or she claims to be. Digital signatures are especially important for electronic commerce and are a key component of most authentication schemes.
[9] Message digest: The representation of text in the form of a single string of digits, created using a formula called a one-way hash function.
[10] Hash algorithm: A numeric function which mixes the ordering of input values to hopefully get an even distribution. (Also, hash function)
[11] Digital signature: A digital code that can be attached to an electronically transmitted message that uniquely identifies the sender.
[12] Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (S/MIME): A specification for secure electronic mail. S/MIME was designed to add security to e-mail messages in MIME format. The security services offered are authentication (using digital signatures) and privacy (using encryption).
[13] Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): A technology embedded in Web servers and browsers that encrypts traffic.
[14] Virtual Private Network (VPN): An extended local area network (LAN) that enables an organization to conduct secure, real-time communication.
[15] Secure HTTP (SHTTP): A form of encryption that takes place at the hypertext markup language level. This allows a Web browser to transfer sensitive information across the Internet.

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