Cloud services are quickly becoming some of the most highly commoditized digital products in tech. It’s estimated that around 463 exabytes of data will be stored or generated globally by 2025. That means that more companies, institutions, and individuals are investing in cloud services for storage and processing solutions. That also means that more internet users are now becoming increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks, hacks, and data breaches. This is the reason why many companies are investing heavily in encryption protocols to better protect their data online. But what is encryption exactly and how does it impact the way that people use the internet?

What is Data Encryption?

When you use the internet these days, it’s likely that you would sign up with an account in order to gain access to content or avail of the services or products of a certain website. If you want to use Facebook, that means that you would have to set up a Facebook account. If you wish to purchase something from the online Nike store, then you would have to give them some of your information to facilitate order fulfillment and logistics. This is precisely where encryption comes in. Encryption is a security protocol that’s designed to protect and safeguard any sensitive information that you hand over to websites like Facebook and Nike. This also applies to other kinds of websites like online banking systems, e-commerce platforms, mobile casinos and apps, blogs, and whatnot.

Encryption is defined to be the “cryptographic transformation of data into a form that conceals the data’s original meaning to prevent it from being known or used,” according to the Computer Security Resource Center. This is just another way of saying that encryption is a way that takes sensitive data and transforms it into an unreadable or indecipherable format so that it’s practically useless to any third party who manages to gain access to it.

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Imagine that you have valuable knowledge that you don’t want anyone else to know about, but you need to find a way to safely store that knowledge somewhere. You can write that knowledge down in a cryptographic format that only you can understand and hide it in a safe. If an intruder or thief manages to gain access to the contents of that safe, the contents that they would find would still be effectively useless because they have no way of understanding it themselves. That’s essentially what data encryption is in a nutshell.

How Does Data Encryption Work Exactly?

Data encryption protocols are essentially lines of complex codes and algorithms that are designed to full encrypt data. These encryption algorithms are called cyphers and they are paired with an encryption key in order to encode sensitive data into ciphertext. This ciphertext is then transmitted and stored in a secure vault or network. A computer can only gain access to this ciphertext if they have a cipher key that can be used to decrypt the text and return it to its original form to make it decipherable.

The entire concept of data encryption is dependent on the strength of encryption keys. These are programmed codes that are designed to function like physical keys that you would use on an actual doorknob. Without the right encryption key, it would be virtually impossible for anyone to gain access to data that’s stored in ciphertext. Encryption keys are typically generated manually or with a dedicated software that is capable of scrambling data within an algorithm.

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What Does This Mean for Internet Users?

For the most part, encryption services are there to protect the privacy of users online. You can sign up for online banking services to make transactions with different people and sites online without having to worry about your data being stolen as a result of a hacking or data breach. Encryption is an added line of security that helps ensure the privacy of your sensitive data. This can help prevent any crimes involving theft, impersonation, or even blackmail.

Granted, encryption protocols are very effective at protecting data, but internet users should still practice maximum vigilance when divulging private information online. Many people still fall victim to phishing scams that are beyond the protection of encryption protocols.

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