Cryptography starts with the first known written language, about 3300 BC, cuneiform script. In modern days, cryptography is employed in protecting information resources from being accessed by unauthorized parties.
Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties called adversaries. Cryptography constructs and analyzes protocols that prevent third parties or the public from reading private information; various aspects in information security such as data confidentiality, data integrity, authentication, and non-repudiation are central to modern cryptography.
In cryptography, encryption is the process of encoding information. This process converts the original representation of the information, known as plaintext, into an alternative form known as ciphertext. Encryption facilitates secret communication.
Encryption involves cryptographic algorithms (or ciphers) that encode information and help prevent unauthorized access to the data. An algorithm generates the encryption keys that are provided to users who encrypt or decrypt information.
In recent years, there have been numerous reports of confidential data, such as customers’ personal records, being exposed through loss or theft of laptops or backup drives; encrypting such files at rest helps protect them if physical security measures fail. The increase of data breaches and cyber-attacks has forced companies to adopt various forms of encryption software with four primary security features: data integrity, data confidentiality, data availability, and data compliance regulation. The global data encryption market is growing at an 18% CAGR which is expected to reach $4.8B in 2022; the growing use of cloud-based services is driving the rapid growth of the data encryption market as companies seek to protect data in dynamic cloud environments.
Encryption can be used on data in use, at rest or in motion and in all environments — on premises, public cloud, hybrid cloud and virtual. It is also available as a service.
Encryption can be used to protect data “at rest”, such as information stored on computers and storage devices (e.g. USB flash drives). Another use is Digital rights management systems, which prevent unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted material and protect software against reverse engineering.
Encryption is also used to protect data “in transit”, for example data being transferred via networks (e.g. the Internet, e-commerce), mobile telephones, wireless microphones, wireless intercom systems, Bluetooth devices and bank automatic teller machines. Data in transit should be encrypted when transmitted across networks in order to protect against eavesdropping of network traffic by unauthorized users.
Encryption is used for authentication, database encryption, data masking, Public Key Infrastructure systems, secure communications (SSL/ TLS, IPSec), secure messaging. Key Management systems facilitate keeping track of keys, policies, and uses, while hardware security modules perform encryption, decription and securely generate and store keys in hardware.
Encryption enables enterprises to secure data they own and to satisfy compliance mandates and regulatory requirements with capabilities such as centralized key and policy management, least privilege access controls and the ability to detect sensitive information.
Even if encrypted data is obtained by a third unauthorized party, the information it carries is safe from being obtained.