What is encryption?
Encrypting data means getting it transformed
into a string of characters undecipherable by others.
What actually happens is that by using a secret-key i.e.
the equivalent of a code (see glossary), the cryptography
system transforms your data into gibberish. If the scrambling
of the data is done properly, the original file can only be
unscrambled and read by someone who knows the secret key i.e.
the code used to encrypt the file.
Encrypting a file ensures that even if someone gets access
to your computers/he would not be able to read the data stored
there. Encrypted files can safely be sent by e-mail or placed
on a network with the assurance that the data can be read
only by those who were meant to have it.
Basic encryption systems have been used to protect secrets
for many centuries. But today's encryption methods are far
more sophisticated and reliable than ever before because the
encryption code itself is a very complex computational transformation
that is only feasible with desktop machines in the early 1990s
How does encryption work?
When you use encryption, your data gets converted
into meaningless symbols by using a key, which is nothing
but the code that helps you to encrypt or decrypt data.
The more random the method of key conversion, the stronger
the encryption will be. A pass phrase generally needs to be
easy to remember, so it has significantly less randomness
than its length suggests. For example, a 20-letter English
phrase, rather than having 20 x 8 = 160 bits of randomness,
only has about 20 x 2 = 40 bits of randomness.
So, cryptographic software converts a pass phrase into a
key through a process called ``hashing'' or ``key initialization.''
At the heart of the process is the algorithm (see glossary),
which is devised so as to make deciphering the encrypted file
impossible without using the secret key. Some of the popular
encryption algorithms include Blowfish, DES, Diffie-Hellman,
IDEA, RC4, RSA and Skipjack. Many of these use 64 and 128
bit encryption systems i.e. devise keys of 2*64 or 2*128 length.
The Blowfish encryption algorithm on which CryptoExpert is
based was specially designed to encrypt data on 32-bit microprocessor.
It is significantly faster than DES and GOST when implemented
on 32-bit microprocessors, such as the Pentium or Power PC.
Is encryption safe?
I n ordinary user may find it difficult to unscramble
even a simple algorithm. However, experts using sophisticated
methods can employ a number of means to break an algorithm.
The most common of these is "brute force" wherein
a number of computers are simultaneously employed to break
the code by a "trial and error" system which physically
checks all possible combinations.
However, a well developed encryption system can withstand
even such brutal attacks. Encryption based on the algorithms
mentioned above are generally immune to these kinds of attack
assuming that no backdoors exist in the programme. Calculations
show that the period of time required to crack them through
brute force is gigantic. This table will give an idea of the
2 to power of Approximates to
30 Age of planet earth (in years)
33 Probability of being killed by a lightning (per day)
61 Lifetime of universe in seconds
170 Amount of atoms on our planet
223 Amount of atoms in our galaxy
446 Amount of possible keys used by GUIDESX
2048 Amount of possible keys
The probability of being killed by a lightning is 2³³
to 1, this is about 8.5 billion to 1. Note: 128 bit keys generally
provide maximum security. For most private and commercial
applications 60 bit key length is sufficient. Only 56 bit
and below keys can theoretically be broken by the "brute
To see how difficult this is let us look at estimates of
the time required using brute force to break symmetric ciphers
I. Every single computer (estimated at 3*108) on the earth
is used full time.
ii. Every computer has the processing power of a PII 450Mhz.
Then a single (3DES) key can be brute forced in an average
of 457,351,814,728 years.
The table below shows how long the various types of keys
remain secure for.
A number of assumptions are made:
i. The number of computers in the world is equal to 100 Billion
(that's ten for every single person on earth in the year 2014
- there are expected to be 10 billion people alive in 2014).
ii. Each of the computers obey Moore's law (the power and
speed of computers doubles approximately every 18 months)
for the entire period of cracking. (NOTE: this assumption
may break current theories on speed of light, quantum physics
etc). In reality, Moore's Law is predicted to become infeasible
within 10 years or so.
Cipher Effective Years until break
Key Size feasible with
500 10 100,000
Supercomputers Billion Deep Crack
3DES 112 61 44 45
CAST 128 85 65 69
IDEA 128 85 66 69