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Minimal Key Lengths For Symmetric Ciphers To Provide Adequate Commercial Security

994 words - 4 pages

The use of encryption is as old as the art of communication. In times of war encryption was called 'code,' and could be employed to keep the enemy from obtaining the contents of transmissions. Simple ciphers include the substitution of letters for numbers, the rotation of letters in the alphabet, and the 'scrambling' of voice signals more complex ciphers work according to sophisticated computer readings that rearrange the data bits in digital signals. In order to easily recover the contents of an encrypted signal, the correct decryption key is required. The key undoes the work of the encryption. Alternatively, a computer can be used in an attempt to 'break' the cipher. The more complex the encryption, the more difficult it becomes to eavesdrop on the communications. Hacker's part in breaking encryption can be either simple or devastatingly advanced. With tools called hex editors (Rootshell), Hackers are able to 'decode' the encryption. The tedious task includes decompiling the executable file, thus coding the transmission. Since there are currently 72 quadrillion possible encryption keys, for each given message, the key is chosen at random from its enormous database of keys, and these servers as a problem. Hackers have to tend with the newest standard 56-bit key coding, which servers as a tedious task (that's why they call them 'hackers') since encryption is the toughest to crack, it seems to be of larger standard. Internet companies, businesses, groups, and other miscellaneous programs have turned to its protection. It serves as a safe house for critical information. Together, firewalls and encryption of files can be counted as one of the most secure ways of protecting information. Although, Hackers can and will find ways to elude the task at hand, the withholders of the information must be sure to try and stay one step ahead of their predators. In public key encryption, a pair of keys is generated; the public key is published and distributed to the public, and the private key is retained and kept secret by the owner.  The keys are generated in such a way that knowledge of one key does not reveal the other key.  This allows UserA to encrypt a message using UserB's public key, thus ensuring that only UserB can decrypt the message using UserB's own private key. The use of public and private keys can be reversed from the description in the last paragraph (wherein UserA encrypts data with UserB's public key, etc.).  When UserA encrypts data with UserA's own private key, that data can only be decrypted using UserA's public key.  This means that any user receiving the data encrypted with UserA's private key knows that the data could have come only from UserA.  This is the essence of digital signatures, which ensure not only that the data came from a specific user, but also that the data was not altered during transmission.  Digital signatures are mentioned here  because they are an important use of public key cryptography. Any encryption method...

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