What is Encryption & How it Works (2020)?

Understand Encryption: An Art to Encode Data

The concept of data encryption is quite different from that of IT security and before moving forward, it’s important to understand how encryption works.

IT Security aims to protect the physical assets such as Servers, network computers, databases, etc. while encryption works towards saving the data that travels across these assets.

It’s one of the most powerful ways to safeguard data against external threats and unauthorized access.

Encryption protects data from all potential threats, but it’s an opportunity and an invitation for hackers when not implemented carefully.

Nevertheless, in the instance when the administrator encrypts data correctly and it however, falls into the wrong hands, it will be inaccessible and useless. So, let’s first understand what is encryption and how it works.

Related: Move Data to Cloud Securely! What You Should Know

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the technique to scramble data so that only the authorized person with the access key can read it.


Simply put, it is the process to turn plain text into cipher text.

Plain text can be converted to cipher text using encryption key which is usually a set of mathematical values.

Encryption locks or encrypts data so that the person with the right key can unlock or decrypt it.

How Encryption Works?

According to a belief, the encryption is based on the art of Cryptography.


The experts use algorithms and computers to turn the text from plain format into the unreadable or ciphered text to encrypt data.

For accessing encrypted data, the user will require the encryption key for decrypting the coded text. The encryption key is an array of bits that deciphers the encrypted text.

In the case of not so complex encryption, computers are capable of guessing the encryption key.

However, if the user implements encryption using sophisticated codes such as the elliptic curve algorithm, it is difficult to break the code.

Encryption protects two types of data:

  1. Data ‘in Transit’; and
  2. Data ‘at Rest

If the database or the storage media is hacked, the encrypted data remains safe.

Moreover, if the data intercepts while in transit, such as in emails, in the Cloud, or between browsers, encryption protects it from hacking.

Related: What is Customer Identity Access Management (CIAM) Platform?

How to Achieve Encryption on Data, Files & Storage Media?

Full Disk Encryption

Full disk encryption is the primary method to prevent data from rest, such as the data stored on hard drives. It is not full-disk encryption, but transitional options for encrypting a disk, folder, or a volume.

File Encryption

The administrators encrypt data-at-rest on a file-by-file basis so as to nosedive any unlawful attempt to gain access to data . In this type of encryption, the data remains encrypted even when it no longer exists in its original location.

End-to-End Encryption

This encryption strategy conceals the message’s particular content such that only the sender and the recipient can access it. It blocks the vulnerabilities existing on various travel points of the communication chain, such as the sender end, the middle, and the recipient’s end.

Encrypted Email Servers

Secure/ Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) public-key encryption allows Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to send/ receive encoded messages, apart from plain text messages.

Pre-Encrypted Data

Before the data synchronize with Cloud, the best practice is to cipher it using the software. The data turns unreadable in the Cloud and it becomes impossible to read it even after several hacking attempts. However, the files that are stored on the local machine are not encrypted and at stake.

Related: DDoS Attacks Types, Mitigation Techniques & Procedures

Ways & Algorithms to Encrypt Data


Various ways to encrypt data such as Secret- key algorithms, Block-ciphers, Blockchain Cryptography, Public-key algorithms, Elliptic Curve Cryptography, and many more.

Some of the popular encryption algorithms are Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Signal Protocol, RSA, Ring Learning with Errors, International Data Encryption Algorithm (IDEA), Blowfish and Twofish, etc.

To sum up, encryption is a significant way to keep data safe from all sorts of threats- be it internal or external. When you implement encrytion correctly, it can protect data from unlawful access on local storage media and in the Cloud, even if the data is hacked.

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