The diverse world of cryptography can only be understood through ethical hacking learning and knowledge of encoding decoding. Explore the various cryptographic methods for data transfer to secure digital conversations.
Transfer of messages in a secret way to the authenticated person has remained a subject of concern for decades. Humans have solved the problem of communication from using pigeons to deliver messages to one-click instant transfers. But the zero-trust digital era demands knowledge of encryption of data to ensure that no intermediary can meddle with confidential files.
Let’s discuss some key cryptography concepts like encoding, hashing, encryption, obfuscation, and tokenization to understand encryption types and ethical hacking to secure our online communications.
What Is Hashing?
Hashing is a process of converting a text irrespective of length into a fixed-length string generally termed as a hash value, hash digest, or hash, which cannot be reversed back to the original one. A single bit of change in the original text can bring an avalanche effect to the hashed string and result in a different hash.
A good hash function should be complex and should not reproduce the same hash value for two different inputs.
Hashing keeps the integrity of the message intact and to avoid encoding failure. For example, many stores provide software along with their hash value so that users can ensure integrity by calculating the hash value of downloaded/purchased software on their own.
Hash functions facilitate avoiding duplicity of data, to avoid storing clear text password database administrators use encryption data functions to store passwords in hashed value.
Some widely used Hash algorithms are MD5 (Message digest) and SHA-2(Secure Hash Algorithm).
What is Encoding?
Mapping a character with another so that that application or machine can understand it is called encoding. Digitally, encoding ensures that the application can understand the delivered string and be able to process it, rather than keeping the information secure.
An encryption key is not required for both processes because the encoded string can be decoded with the same scheme that was used to encode
The above snippet is an example of encoding HTML where one text (♠ 😉 is converted into a spade and another text (🔴 😉 is transformed into a big red circle using utf-8 encoding scheme.
Some other encoding memory schemes are Base64 encoding, Unicode, ASCII, URL Encoding, etc.
What is Encryption?
Encryption definition calls it the process of taking a message and scrambling its content so that only authorized people can access it.
An encryption file keeps sensitive information secure and private. It includes all online data such as bank details, emails, social networks, and offline data such as information stored on a hard drive that can only be accessed by an authorized person.
By using encryption software, we can enhance our security. It is achieved by preventing attacks like identity theft, eavesdropping, and maintaining confidentiality throughout the communication.
Although there are many encryption algorithms, the most common ones are public and private keys. Let us talk about the different types and encryption meaning:
1. Symmetric Key Encryption:
It involves encryption with the key to encrypt and decrypt the information. It means the sender and the recipient should know the secret key, and this property makes it faster compared to asymmetric key encryption, but the key needs to be store securely, and a secure channel is required to transfer key.
Some widely used algorithms are: AES-128, AES-256, DES-3, and BLOWFISH
2. Asymmetric Key Encryption:
This technique uses two keys: a private key and a public key, where the private key is kept secret, and the public key is announced publicly.
For instance: you shared your public key to the public so that anyone who wants to send you a message can encrypt the message using your public key and send it to you. Now, as only you have access to your private key, only you can decrypt the message.
Some widely used algorithms are RSA, DSA, Elliptic curve techniques, PKCS.
What Is Obfuscation?
Obfuscation comes handy when you are learning ethical hacking from scratch. It is the practice of making something difficult to read and understand. Generally, software’s code is obfuscated to protect developers/company intellectual property from being copied, to avoid tampering, and to defend code from attackers.
How It Works:
Obfuscation is a cryptography method which may involve encryption of code, stripping out potential, revealing metadata, renaming important class names, variables, adding null byte, meaningless code. Some other techniques, such as the use of Packers, crypters, or Exclusive or Operation, are common practices. The following diagram is an example:
What Is Tokenization?
Tokenization is one of the many cryptographic methods for data transfer.Tokenization involves protecting sensitive information by replacing it with an algorithmically generated secure random token. Tokenization replaces sensitive cardholder details(payment card information and customer personally identifiable information ) with a token to avoid leaking confidential banking information over the internet during transactions.
Tokenized data is irreversible and cannot be predictable, as there is no relationship between the token and original data. So even if it gets leaked, it is of no use for attackers, which is why ethical hacking jobs stress on tokenization.
Detokenization can only be achieved through the original tokenization system; there is no such way to obtain original data from just token.
Final Words On Cryptographic Methods for Data Transfer
So far, we have discussed the different techniques of learning computer hacking. An ethical hacker must be proficient in his profession and know all about encryption vs. hashing and other technicalities to be able to secure communications over the internet.