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Difference between Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption

What is Encryption?

Encryption can be used to scramble data so that only authorized parties are able to decode it. Technically defined, it refers to the procedure of converting plaintext—text that humans can read—to ciphertext—unintelligible text. To put it simply, encryption modifies readable data to appear random. To encrypt a message, a cryptographic key, or set of numbers, must be agreed upon by both the sender of the message and the person who receives it. Encryption is a mathematical process. It uses an algorithm and a secret key for altering data.


Hello    encryption   SNigfh+hu8=

In the example, Hello is a plaintext, and SNigfh+hu8= is a ciphertext.

Why do we need Encryption?

  • Privacy: In order to prevent unauthorized access to messages or data that is at rest, encryption ensures that only the intended receiver or the rightful data owner may access it. As a result, private information cannot be intercepted and read by hackers, ad networks, Internet service providers, and occasionally governments.
  • Security: Whether the data is in transit or at rest, encryption aids in the prevention of data breaches. The data on a lost or stolen corporate device will not be compromised because the hard disc is adequately encrypted. Similarly, to this, encrypted communications allow the communicating parties to exchange private information without the information being revealed.
  • Data Integrity: On-path attacks and other harmful behavior are also deterred by encryption. Encryption ensures that when data is sent over the Internet, it has not been read or tampered with a route to the recipient.
  • Regulations: All these factors make it mandatory for businesses handling user data to maintain encryption in accordance with numerous industry and governmental laws. HIPAA, PCI-DSS, andthe GDPR are a few examples of regulatory and compliance standards that demand encryption.

What are the different types of encryptions?

The two types of encryptions are –

  • Symmetric Encryption
  • Asymmetric Encryption
  • Symmetric Encryption

Secret Key Encryption is another name for Symmetric encryption. It is also called Conventional Encryption. In the case of symmetric encryption, the same key is used for both encryption and decryption. The sender and receiver must safely exchange the key in order to convert plaintext to ciphertext and vice versa. Some examples of Symmetric Encryption are-

  • DES (Data Encryption Standard)
  • AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)
  • 3DES (Triple Data Encryption Standard)
  • Asymmetric Encryption

Key Encryption is another name of Asymmetric Encryption. In the case of Asymmetric Encryption, we use two different keys for encryption, but the two keys are mathematically related. Some examples of Asymmetric Encryption are-

  • RSA (Rivest Shamir Adleman)
  • ECC (Elliptic Curve Cryptography)

The below tables show the Differences between Symmetric Encryption and Asymmetric Encryption

Point NoTopicSymmetric EncryptionAsymmetric Encryption
1Key pointSymmetric encryption ensures quick processing and little computing overhead by using an identical private key for both encryption and decryption.Asymmetric encryption enables secure communication without requiring the exchange of secret keys by using two mathematically linked keys—a public  key that is used for encryption and a private shared key that can be used for decryption. Digital signatures and key exchange are made possible, but the computational cost is increased.
2Distribution of Key In order to ensure the security of the encrypted data, symmetric encryption requires the secret key to be securely shared between the parties involved in communication.Secure key distribution is not necessary with asymmetric encryption because the public keys that are generated can be freely distributed and used for encryption while the private keys are kept private. This makes key management easier and makes it possible for parties to communicate securely.
3Speed of Encryption and DecryptionSymmetric encryption methods are useful for swiftly encrypting huge volumes of data since they are typically more rapid and computationally advantageous.Instead of being used for bulk data encryption, asymmetric encryption algorithms are better suited for situations requiring safety precautions such as key exchange and digital signatures because they are slower as well as more computationally costly than symmetric encryption.
4Use CaseSymmetric encryption is frequently employed for large amounts of information encryption, including protecting network traffic, securing stored data, or encrypting files. It works well in situations where effectiveness is important.For the private exchange of keys, digitally signed documents, and secure communication, asymmetric encryption is frequently employed. It offers a way to create secure channels, confirm the legitimacy and accuracy of data, and enable secure transactions. It is appropriate for situations in which security takes precedence over computing speed.
5Management of keyWhen compared to asymmetric encryption, symmetric encryption just needs managing and safeguarding a single shared secret key.Asymmetric encryption entails managing and safeguarding key pairs, consisting of a private key that must be kept secret and a corresponding public key that can be disclosed to the public. The management of keys is much more complicated as a result.
6Security CheckingThe strength and secrecy of the shared key are essential to symmetric encryption. The security of the encrypted data is also affected if the key is compromised.Asymmetric encryption, which offers a higher level of security, depends on the computational complexity of mathematical problems like factoring huge numbers or computing discrete logarithms. However, the integrity of the secret key is a requirement for security.
7Securely exchange keyTo avoid interception or manipulation with the shared secret key, symmetric encryption needs a safe channel for key exchange.Secure key exchange is made possible by asymmetric encryption without the need for a pre-shared secret key. A sender can encrypt data so that only the recipient, who is in possession of the associated private key, can decrypt it by using the recipient's public key, ensuring safe communication channels.