You must have heard the term ‘Military Grade Encryption’ thrown around a lot in the adverts and the websites offering Encryption services. But, what is a Military Grade Encryption? How does it work? Does it have any practical implication in securing the electronic data?
It’s more of a marketing misnomer. The usage of the term doesn’t necessary means that the encryption provider uses the military certified encryption, however, it does guarantee that you’ll get one of the many encryptions used by the military forces.
How does Encryption work?
Data Encryption is the process of encoding information or data in a secure manner using the encryption tool so that only the authorized parties can parse (read) it. It basically transforms data over the internet into a format which is only readable when in possession of a decryption key.
Let’s imagine, the encrypted data is a special letter which requires a special dictionary. The special dictionary is a decryption key which enables a reader to open the letter and read it.
Do Military use Military Grade Encryption?
Yes, they do. The usage of military encryption depends on the sensitivity and confidentiality of the information. The more confidential they are, the higher the encryption they use.
Most major militaries (such as the US Military) use off the shelf encryption algorithms with key lengths that vary depending on the levels of protected data's clearance (Sensitive, Classified, Secret, Top Secret, etc.).
What is Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)?
The Advanced Encryption Standard or AES is a specification for the encryption of electronic data established by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2001. It was originally called Rijndael. It is a subset of the Rijndael block cipher developed by two Belgian cryptographers, Vincent Rijmen and Joan Daemen.
The algorithm described by AES is a symmetric-key algorithm, meaning the same key is used for both encrypting and decrypting the data.
NIST adopted three encryption keys for AES namely 128, 192, and 256 bits. The AES is in use throughout the world today.
256-bit encryption refers to the length of the encryption key used to encrypt a data stream or file. Basically, a hacker will require 2256 different combinations to break a 256-bit encrypted message. Breaking the 256-bit encryption is virtually impossible, even by the fastest computers. It is generally used by military intelligence.
128 and 192-bit are lesser known encryptions fro Rijndael family that is widely used for less confidential information.
Does Website Security use AES?
Websites generally use SSL or Secure Socket Layer. You must have noticed a green address bar with prefix https://, this basically means that your website data is encrypted with SSL. SSL uses the RSA algorithm, an asymmetric encryption technology. Typical SSL implementation uses 128 or 256 digits for their keys.
SSL allows sensitive information such as credit card, social security number, and login credentials to pass securely through a website without the fear of being intercepted by any third party or user.
There are two types of encryption, asymmetric and symmetric. Since asymmetric keys are bigger than symmetric, the asymmetric encryption is known to be secure than symmetric.