Friday, January 18, 2008

Data Encryption

Encryption is a method of compressing data files into a format inaccessible to unauthorized people. Technology used in encryption activities was once used exclusively by top-secret military and government operations. Now, even ordinary people can use encryption software to ward off a different kind of spy—hackers that steal identities and spread viruses.

Choosing the right kind of encryption system and software largely depends on the level of security you need. If you are person e-mailing highly classified files, you may need to use a more sophisticated encryption method than the ordinary guy down at the local Internet café sharing mp3s or pictures through peer-to-peer sharing. More stringent security encryption is used by large corporations and government agencies that deal with sensitive and top secret information. Their encryption systems are based on highly advanced algorithms and multiple combinations of passwords and pass keys.

A symmetric-key encryption system uses a secret key or code to encode the data. When the data is to be passed from the client's computer, it is first encoded with the public key and then sent to the secured computer. The secured computer then uses the private key along with the public key to decode the data.

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