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A Detailed Guide On Asymmetric Encryption And How It Works

Asymmetric Encryption

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We are at this time where data are most valuable. Transferring data through blockchain, which operates autonomously, is a question of challenge. 

To solve this problem, encryption techniques came into effect where the data/messages are encrypted into some random letters and numbers for them to be decrypted by the receiver. In that way, data are safely transferred.

Encryption key leaked

But how do this encryption and decryption happen? What are the different types of encryptions, and how does this technique works? 

Let’s skip to the main part and explore the answers to all the questions in detail. 

Definition Of Encryption

Encryption of data involves using mathematical tools or algorithms. They are referred to as cryptographic algorithms that work on the plain text in the readable format and convert them into cipher text. 

A ciphertext reveals the original message as a random combination of letters and words. 

These texts are now encrypted, and on the receiving end, the user can decrypt using special keys to read what the actual message is. 

This can be thought analogous to sending a secret message in an e-mail that the sender locks with a key. After reaching the receiver, the message can be unlocked again using another key to read the actual message. 

This is the process of encryption employed for secure data transfer. 

Let’s find out the differences between the private and public keys used in encrypting and decrypting. 

Private Key vs Public Key

Different Types Of Encryption

The two major classifications of encryption techniques, 

Symmetric encryption

  • Both encryption and decryption symmetric encryption are performed using a single key. 
  • Since the same key is used, it offers less security when that one key is compromised. 
  • It uses 120 or 256-bit key length to encrypt messages 
  • Used to transfer big data with low usage of resources

Asymmetric encryption

  • Asymmetric encryption involves two separate keys for encrypting and decrypting a message
  • Data security is high
  • It uses 2048-bit key length to encrypt messages
  • The speed is less and not ideal for transmitting big data

For a clear understanding on the modern encryption technique, we’ll take a deep dive into the topic of asymmetric encryption.

How does Asymmetric encryption work?

Asymmetric encryption uses private and public keys, which are mathematically related. The public key is accessible to anyone with which messages can be encrypted and sent. 

The data, once encrypted, can be unlocked with only the corresponding private key. The compromise on the private key can lead to a data leak. And so, only the authorised user/ server holding the private key can access the information. 

Private keys are strings of numbers of really larger length for it to be strong and secure. They are generated with a high degree of randomness that it would take years for any supercomputer to find the private key. 

Asymmetric encryption is employed to authenticate parties, for data integrations, etc. 

We shall take a look at the length of a private and public key

*Public Key*

MIIBITANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAAOCAQ4AMIIBCQKCAQBukNqMp3/zrntpyRhCwYxe

9IU3yS+SJskcIyNDs0pEXjWlctfSNEwmeEKG3944dsBTNdkb6GSF6EoaUe5CGXFA

y/eTmFjjx/qRoiOqPMUmMwHu0SZX6YsMQGM9dfuFBaNQwd6XyWufscOOnKPF5EkD

5rLiSNEqQEnoUvJb1LHiv/E36vi6cNc5uCImZ4vgNIHwtKfkn1Y+tv/EMZ1dZyXw

NN7577WdzH6ng4DMf5JWzUfkFIHqA2fcSGaWTXdoQFt6DnbqaO5c2kXFju5R50Vq

wl+7S46L4TYFcMNDeGW6iAFds+SMADG486X/CRBTtF4x59NU3vNoGhplLRLtyC4N

AgMBAAE=

*RSA Private Key*

MIIEoQIBAAKCAQBukNqMp3/zrntpyRhCwYxe9IU3yS+SJskcIyNDs0pEXjWlctfS
NEwmeEKG3944dsBTNdkb6GSF6EoaUe5CGXFAy/eTmFjjx/qRoiOqPMUmMwHu0SZX
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Applications of asymmetric encryption

Digital Signatures

Digital signatures act as a cryptographic proof system that instils trust in the blockchain for users. It assures the source from where the messages come from, ruling out the possibility of data tampering. 

Digital signatures are formed by asymmetric encryption linking the mathematically related private and public keys with a secure hash function. Thereby, it authenticates the message’s sender and ensures the data is safeguarded against any alterations while in transit. 

These digital signatures are used in

  • SSL/TSL certificates, a standard technology that secures websites and keeps the transactions and login data protected. 
  • Personal authentication certificates, which the organisations use to restrict resources to employees who can only access them on office devices. 

Pros and Cons of Asymmetric Encryption

Security: It uses long keys that are 1024 or 2048 bits which means there are 22048 possibilities of the combination of keys. This inevitably spotlights the security attribute of asymmetric encryption.

Key distributed limited to endpoints: In symmetric encryption, only public keys need to be distributed when more endpoints are involved. Contrarily in asymmetric encryption public key can be distributed, but a private key can be distributed to only authorised users. Therefore, fewer end-points hold the private key, which restricts the key from getting compromised.

Cons

Low speed: Since the keys are long and the server has to generate separate keys for encryption and decryption, it is time-consuming. 

Less scalability: Hefty data transfers place loads of pressure on the encryption and decryption process, which exhausts the server. Therefore, Asymmetric encryption is not suitable for transferring huge amounts of data. 

Major Compromised Keys Web3 Hacks 

So far we have covered the majority of the aspects of asymmetric encryption, and now we will look at some of the prominent hacks in Web3 due to private key leaks. 

Compromised Keys Hacks

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, Asymmetric encryption works well in transferring less amount of data over many number endpoints. Though the hybrid approach of deriving the advantage from symmetric and asymmetric encryption is adopted by some certificates such as SSL/TLS, which also proves effective. 

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