301-571-5040    Get SUPPORT

Washington Works Blog

Tech Term: Encryption Key

Tech Term: Encryption Key

It is no secret that security is an absolutely crucial part of computing in the modern era. Data can very fairly be called the most valuable currency today, which means it needs to be protected. One way to do this is through the use of encryption keys. In this Tech Term, we’ll go over how these keys can protect your data, and how they do so.

What is Encryption, and Why Does it Need a Key?
Simply put, encryption is the process of scrambling up data so that it is rendered useless for anyone who doesn’t have the means to unscramble it. This is what an encryption key is for. Thanks to the use of algorithms, these keys are ensured to be unique, with no patterns dictating how they are composed. Depending on the type of encryption used, there may be one or two keys involved.

Symmetric algorithm - Also known as secret key encryption, this kind of encryption uses one key to both encrypt and decrypt data. This means that this form of encryption is very efficient, and so it is often used to encrypt large amounts of data. However, since there is only one key used for both processes, it is imperative to the security of the encrypted data that this key remains in your possession.

Asymmetric algorithm - This variety of encryption is also known as public/private encryption, as there are two keys involved. One key (usually the public one, which means it can be shared) is used to encrypt data, while the other (usually private) key is used to decrypt it later. Asymmetric encryption is widely accepted to be more secure, as the key that can decrypt the data after it is encrypted is not shared.

What These Keys Can Be Used to Accomplish
Encryption keys are commonly used for an assortment of different objectives. Of course, these different objectives will require assorted security needs, so it is also important that the key itself is secure enough. This strength comes from multiple factors, including length (longer symmetric keys are inherently more secure) and the algorithm used to create it. These keys often have a shelf life, of sorts, known as the crypto-period. These are all reasons why, when a key is created, its intended use is a helpful thing to keep in mind.

Data encryption keys - This is the form of encryption that most people would be familiar with, as it simply protects data from being read by anyone who isn’t authorized to see it (the authorization coming in the ability to decrypt the information). These keys frequently are held onto past their crypto-period, if not indefinitely.

Authentication keys - An authentication key is used to confirm that the data contained has not been altered during transmission from point A to point B. This is useful if you need to send or receive data in an unaltered state to prove its integrity.

Digital signature keys - This is effectively the same kind of key as an authentication key, just taken one step further and applied specifically to one’s digital signature. This means that the person who digitally ‘signed’ the document can’t deny that they did sign it.

Root keys - A Public Key Infrastructure hierarchy is used for authentication and digital signatures, and the root key is the highest key in the hierarchy. Since it is such an important key to keep secured and will often be around for some time, a hardware security module, or HSM, is often used to help protect it.

Master keys - A master key is one that is used to encrypt multiple other keys, which means it has to be very secure (again using an HSM) as well as long-lasting, if not permanent.

Key encryption keys - These keys are used to securely transport other secret encryption keys, which means that they are typically long-lasting and unchanging.

Want to learn more about how encryption can help your company? Reach out to the professionals at Washington Works by calling 301-571-5040.

How the IoT Can Be a Security Risk
Have You Really Considered Your Maintenance Costs?


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Monday, October 22 2018
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Captcha Image

Mobile? Grab this Article!

QR-Code dieser Seite

Tag Cloud

Tip of the Week Security Technology Best Practices Cloud Privacy Business Computing Malware Hackers Email Software Network Security Tech Term Business Productivity Internet Computer Hosted Solutions Backup Mobile Devices Managed IT Services Ransomware User Tips IT Support Microsoft Data Productivity Data Backup Google Data Recovery Managed Service Provider IT Services Smartphone Efficiency Android Innovation Encryption Cloud Computing Outsourced IT Workplace Tips Business Management Browser Paperless Office Office 365 Social Media Windows 10 Hardware Business Continuity Data Management Communication Small Business Collaboration Government Remote Monitoring Disaster Recovery Save Money Artificial Intelligence Cybersecurity App Windows 10 Infrastructure Tip of the week BYOD Smartphones Unified Threat Management Phishing Work/Life Balance Facebook Server Bandwidth Apps Chrome SaaS Applications Customer Relationship Management Holiday Big Data BDR Hosted Solution Office Internet of Things Politics Employer-Employee Relationship Antivirus Password Saving Money Compliance Managed Service File Sharing Vulnerability Document Management Money Managed IT Services IT Management Chromebook Healthcare VoIP Wi-Fi Two-factor Authentication Virtual Reality Word Windows Risk Management Passwords Network Mobile Device How To HIPAA Identity Theft Health Point of Sale Hacker Telephone Systems Samsung Mobile Security Physical Security Twitter G Suite Computing Smart Technology Website Firewall Computer Care Robot Patch Management Taxes Remote Workers Router Vendor Management Scam Recovery Training Remote Computing Data loss Blockchain Websites Information Gmail Regulations Meetings How To Storage VPN IoT Botnet Automation Maintenance Quick Tips Data Security Server Management Business Technology Automobile Alert Virtual Private Network Tech Support Machine Learning Access Control Cortana Black Market Unified Communications Favorites Corporate Profile Outlook IBM Dark Web Nanotechnology Gadget OneNote Google Drive WiFi Emoji Enterprise Resource Planning Files Solid State Drive Statistics The Internet of Things Cyber Monday Motherboard Crowdsourcing Proactive Lenovo Licensing Cabling Microsoft Office Mouse Identity Travel Cables Digital Mail Merge Gadgets Budget Cost Management Relocation Cleaning Dongle Managed Services Provider SharePoint Supercomputer Bring Your Own Device Project Management WannaCry Shortcut Microsoft Excel Screen Reader Electronic Medical Records Employee-Employer Relationship VoIP Techology GPS Mobile Read Only Hard Disk Drive Bluetooth Personal Information Remote Monitoring and Management Firefox Superfish Cooperation Service Level Agreement E-Commerce Tablet Motion Sickness Wires Spyware Address Hotspot Assessment Private Cloud Update Downloads IT Technicians Downtime IT Budget Vulnerabilities Conferencing Monitors Smart Tech Legal Avoiding Downtime Office Tips Tracking Company Culture Upgrade Distributed Denial of Service Web Server WPA3 Unified Threat Management Staff Utility Computing Features Disaster Heating/Cooling Comparison Social Notifications Language Internet Exlporer Error Wireless Multi-Factor Security Mirgation Digital Payment IT Solutions Geography Instant Messaging Spam Connectivity IT Consultant Sports Time Management User Error Virtualization Managing Stress Help Desk Managed IT Service Modem Cameras Computer Repair Fleet Tracking Networking Mobile Device Management Electronic Health Records Uninterrupted Power Supply Servers Specifications Computing Infrastructure Value Communications Staffing Google Calendar Cybercrime Upgrades Processors High-Speed Internet YouTube Permissions Search Professional Services Monitoring Network Management Printer Wearable Technology Administrator Enterprise Content Management Bookmarks Managed IT Break Fix Cookies Law Enforcement CCTV Asset Tracking Management Cyberattacks Augmented Reality Black Friday Social Networking Webcam MSP Analytics Alerts IT Support Touchscreen Legislation Chatbots Development Settings Fraud Star Wars Education USB Consulting Safety Marketing Competition Hiring/Firing IP Address Users Miscellaneous Customer Service Fun Printers Mobile Office Domains CrashOverride Hard Drives Public Speaking Regulation Emergency Presentation Finance Lithium-ion battery Wireless Technology 5G