People using the Internet are aware that they need security, especially if they are doing financial transactions, or they are exchanging confidential information with someone else over the network. Users often do not understand what network security means, so that leaves them hoping that their transactions are secure.
When using the public network for making important and confidential transactions, it is imperative that the data is not compromised when traversing the network either way.
Terms like encryption and cipher-text are often tossed around, but what any of that means is a mystery to most people.
The best way to pass information through the Internet so that it is not intercepted, stolen, or examined en route is to encrypt the data both ways. Encrypting text requires software that will translate the clear-text, or data as you send it, into cipher-text, or data that is scrambled and disguised, and back again to clear-text. This software consists of making up a random key, no less than 128 bits, and also containing the arithmetic algorithm that transmutes the original characters into different characters as they are transmitted from one place to another. This software must exist at both ends of the transmission.
Encryption simply is a tested algorithm that takes letters, numbers and other characters, runs them through a process, and changes the characters to different characters so that when the process is complete, the once clear text sent by the sender, is scrambled and unreadable. This process must be done again at the receiving end as the data must be translated back to be read by the recipient.
Since the encryption algorithm is based on a key, the same key must be present at each end so that when the characters are decrypted, or unscrambled, they result in the original text sent by the sender. Almost all financial transactions and most corporate undertakings over the Internet use encryption as a tool against corporate espionage and identity theft, often utilized, as the Internet has made it easier to pirate personal and business information that could bring catastrophe if compromised and used for criminal purposes.
Most web browsers include encryption capabilities and are used for banking transactions and other business transactions between users and corporate web sites, but this does not guarantee that the web site is legitimate or that the data sent will not be used maliciously later. Users must be sure that they are exchanging information with those they intend. There are other methods that guarantee this. My next article will include this information.