The security over the internet is pretty fickle, as data can be sent without protection. This could lead to cybercrimes if not taken care of, which is where SSL comes in. SSL is also termed secure sockets layer, and it is used to protect sensitive information by encrypting it. SSL makes sure data like financial details are protected from hackers. The data traffic is encrypted with public key cryptography. This cryptography method has two keys, one of which is private. The keys are like a double authentication system, which means if the public key does the Encryption; the private key has to decrypt the incoming or outgoing data. As the name implies, the private key is kept secret as it is able to decrypt messages, but public keys can be used by anybody for encryption. The asymmetric method uses keys with 1024 or 2048 bits. The 2048 bit key when written out has about 617 digits, which makes it impossible to hack. Higher bit numbers cannot be used as it could be problematic to the system.
SSL also uses a symmetric method to encrypt and decrypt data. This procedure also known as a pre-shared key encryption uses one key for encryption and decryption, making it necessary for the people sending and receiving information to have access to the same key. Symmetric encryption uses a 128 or 256 bit key. These keys also make it impossible for hackers to crack.
When comparing these two encryption/decryption methods, the question of which is better arises. Since longer keys take more time to crack, the initial decision would be asymmetric encryption. However, this method has the tendency to overload the computer which symmetric encryption does not. While the symmetric method has an advantage over the public key encryption process, it is not as safe. This is because both sender and receiver need to have the key which would be shared through a system; the system can be hacked.
In terms of algorithms, these two methods use different algorithms. The asymmetric encryption uses RSA which uses integer factorization. Integer factorization is said to be impossible to decrypt on the grounds that there is no effective algorithm for this method. Public key encryption also uses Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC). The pre-shared key encryption uses algorithms such as AES, twofish or Blowfish.
While the SSL protects websites from hackers, ultimately ensuring cybersecurity, the SSL certificate is needed by websites who use this encryption method to foster trust between browsers and the respective sites.
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