Encryption has been in the news for months. From Apple’s highly-publicized battle with the FBI, to WhatsApp’s announcement they’ve added end-to-end encryption throughout their app, encryption has definitely been in the forefront. With all this encryption buzz, we wanted to take a step back and look at the basics behind the news.
What is Encryption?
Encryption is a way to secure and protect digital data, information and communications sent over the Internet or other networks. As described by How To Geek, encryption is “taking some information that makes sense and scrambling it so it becomes gibberish.”
How Does Encryption Work?
Encryption uses an algorithm to scramble data, so it cannot be viewed by anyone except those with the “key.” As described by CSM the key is a “very large number that an encryption algorithm uses to change the data back not a readable form.” Only people with the key can read the unencrypted data.
In technical terms: encryption converts data from plaintext into a form called ciphertext using an algorithm and encryption key. The ciphertext can only be opened (decrypted) with the correct key.