Is Your Digital Life Encrypted?

March 29, 2024

Imagine you have a secret message you want to send to your friend, but don’t want anyone else to read it. If they have the “key” to reading it, then only the intended recipient can decipher what you mean.

Encryption is like that secret code you and your friend create to lock the message, making it look like gibberish to anyone else who finds it. Instead of coming up with your own secret codes, though, technology scrambles data into unreadable “tokens” to keep YOUR data safer.

Your original message, called “plaintext,” gets transformed into a confusing mess, known as “ciphertext.” Think of it like replacing each letter with a symbol or number based on a secret code. This scrambling happens using complex math algorithms. Just like a physical lock needs a key, unlocking the encrypted message requires a special “decryption key.” This key is like the password to your secret code, and only you and your friend (or authorized recipient) have it.

The recipient uses the decryption key to unscramble the ciphertext back into the original plaintext message. Voila! They can now read your secret message!

When do you encounter encryption techniques? Probably more often than you think!

Encryption is hidden behind the scenes in many everyday activities, from the websites you visit to the messaging apps that you use.

When you see “https” in your browser address bar, it means the website is using encryption to protect your information like passwords and credit card details. That S at the end stands for secure, and that means that your device’s communication with that website has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate. That means the data that you entire into that site is scrambled and safe.

Many digital communication platforms rely on encryption, too! Your messaging apps use it to keep your conversations private, like WhatsApp and Signal. End-to-end encryption adds even more security, by securing your communications in transit and when it gets to the recipient’s device. All of this keeps your conversations more private!

Some email services even offer encryption options, which is very important professionally and for transmitting personally identifiable information (PII). Rental application needs to check your credit history? Send the information securely. New job needs your Social Security Number? Make sure the communication is encrypted!

Encryption plays a crucial role in protecting our privacy and security in the digital world. By scrambling data, it makes it much harder for hackers and other unauthorized individuals to steal or misuse our information. For additional security, consider a VPN. Virtual Private Networks use encryption to create a secure tunnel for your internet traffic, protecting your online activity from prying eyes.

So, the next time you see “https” or use a secure messaging app, remember the invisible encryption shield working in the background to keep your information safe!

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