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Basics of Computer Encryption - Data Encryption

written by: PreciousJohnDoe•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/24/2010

Computer Encryption is a process of encrypting or converting the unsecured data such as text, video, image, etc. into a form that can only be understood by its intended recipient. The data is called the cipher text and the process is referred to as encryption or data encryption.

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    You all might be aware of terms encryption, data encryption, computer encryption, and many other similar words. The term “encryption" means to convert readable data into a form that is not understandable by any other person except the recipient of the data. In other words, encryption is a process by which data (text, image, audio, etc.) is converted into a non-readable form meant to be understood only by its recipient. This process is called encrypting the data, and the process of converting it back into an understandable form is called decrypting the data.

    Decryption is a process by which data that has earlier been encrypted into a non-readable form is converted back to the readable form by some kind of operation or algorithm that was earlier used to encrypt the data.

    For a brief comparison between different encryption algorithms, check out DEA (Comparison).

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    Purpose of Encryption

    The sole purpose of encryption is to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the data. The term integrity means that data must not be changed by others and confidentiality means that it should not be visible to others.

    Data Encryption is required to protect data from others while the recipient may still view it. In the present world, securing the data is very important as Internet has grown very vast, and it has become difficult for people to maintain privacy with an increase in the number of hackers, eaves-droppers, etc. One of the main benefits of encrypting data is that if the encrypted data is modified the recipient will not be able to decode it, which means that either the data was modified or portion of the data was lost in transit. This ensures that both integrity and confidentiality is maintained along with data security.

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    1. Data security

    Encryption ensures data security by encrypting the data that can’t be accessed by others. This way the data can also be sent over unsecured channels as security is present in the encrypted data itself.

    2. Data Integrity

    Encryption ensures that if the data has been modified during transit or intentionally by a hacker, the same cannot be decoded at the recipient's end, providing complete security of the data.

    3. Confidentiality

    Encryption is equal to confidentiality as the encrypted data can only be viewed by the recipient of the data.

    4. Encryption is easy

    With present technology, it has become easier to encrypt the data whether it is an image, text, video, etc. Also, with the help of computers, an enormous amount of data can be encrypted quickly.

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    Encryption key

    In order to decrypt the data you need an encryption key. An encryption key is nothing more than a procedure or an algorithm to decrypt the encrypted data. If the encryption key is lost, you lose the data associated with it.


    Computer encryption is an expensive process in terms of time, money, and storage. It also involves research cost for developing an encryption process specific to an organization along with the cost of developing a computer system for the same.


    Often there is a compatibility issue with existing software applications where you face a negative impact on the operability of the system.