Cryptography: Encryption and its role in message safety

Cryptography: Encryption and its role in message safety

Imagine your private messages, data files, and private information shared floating in the cloud, fully translated and vulnerable. It would be dangerous to leave such private matters up in the air, so this is where encryption comes in to add a layer of safety.

What does message encryption mean?

Encryption derives from the word “cryptography” which refers to the process of encoding information. In ancient times, this concept involved the use of unknown symbols or hieroglyphics to hide secret messages. In this modern age, this concept has translated over to encrypting messages sent through a message chat.

Basically, any messages or text sent through a chat message that are encrypted are protected by an encryption algorithm. They are supposed to be safer since it requires decoding the actual message to understand what was sent.

For example, that What’s App conversation with your best friend is supposed to be end-to-end protected, meaning that it’s supposed to be encrypted from beginning to end of your messages. This ensures an extra layer of protection.

Encryption works by setting up specific cryptographic “ciphers” and ensuring that they are upheld.

What is a cipher and what kinds of ciphers exist?

In order to “decode” any message, some sort of rule has to be used. A cipher is synonymous with code, and multiple ciphers exist with varying complexity. So the message, called “plaintext”, is converted into a ciphertext according to the rules laid out by the cipher.

These rules can be as simple as an alphanumeric substitution, where each letter of the alphabet is tied to a specific number, and all the letters must be identified from each string of numbers.

What are the advantages of message encryption?

Encrypting your messages is a preventative measure that ensures only the intended parties can interpret what is sent. This way, only the sender and receiver (or participants, in the case of a group chat) are able to access and read the contents, messages, and shared files of the message chat.

Message encryption protects your data and privacy as well as personal messages from unauthorized users or outsiders, such as hackers or government agencies. Furthermore, messages sent through these apps are generally not stored on a data server.

The benefit of avoiding this storage is that the messages can’t be translated to an external storage unit, where they may be at risk of being hacked.

Unfortunately, these unauthorized parties can intercept the message, and if they are knowledgeable about cracking these codes, then it is possible for them to “decode” the message. All it takes to decode a message is correctly guessing the key to the encryption algorithm.

Only certain apps, such as What’s App, rely on message encryption to ensure message safety. Beware of any information sent through SMS messaging, since these are not encrypted.

Fortunately, most trusted apps use reliable encryption messages, so rest assured that for the most part, your messages (and secrets) are kept safe from unwanted eyes.

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