What Is Encryption and Why Should You Care?

6/6/16 Tyler David

Encryption has been in the news a lot lately because of the case between Apple and the FBI. It has raised questions about the ethical dilemma between aiding the government in investigating the San Bernadino shooting and Apple’s responsibility to not only protect their technology, but to also protect their customers personal data. Despite the outcry against either Apple or the FBI, this is actually having a really positive effect on the technology industry.

Encryption has been an integral part of technology for a long time. Banks, hospitals, and other business entities use encryption to protect transactions, customer data, and all types of other private information. It is used to maintain proprietary information and protect businesses and individuals from having their data compromised or stolen. While the data may be intercepted, it cannot be understood without being decrypted. Many people don’t really understand what encryption actually is, so here is a simple example.

Let’s say that I have a private email that I want to send to Johnny. However, Johnny is a very popular actor and needs to protect messages that he sends or receives. To protect our conversation, I have created a key, seen below.

For our purposes, we will assume that Johnny also knows this key. Here is the encrypted message that I will be sending Johnny:

While this is a very short and simple message, you currently cannot understand this message if you do not know the key. However, once Johnny applies the key to the encrypted message, the message will look like this:


Hello I hope you are well.

Imagine that you are a manager of a major bank in New York. All of your clients’ personal information including SSNs, addresses, and contact info is stored on your servers. Many of your clients’ life savings are held by your bank. Businesses trust your bank to protect their capital. How do you protect that information and ensure that your clients can trust your bank to protect their assets? Encryption.

Originally published at www.grabitsystems.net.

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