What are the advantages of Symmetric Algorithms?

CryptographySystem SecurityEthical Hacking

Symmetric encryption is computational cryptography that encrypts electronic communication with a single encryption key. It converts data using a mathematical method and a secret key, resulting in the inability to understand a message. Because the mathematical procedure is reversed when decrypting the message using the same private key, symmetric encryption is a two-way algorithm. Private-key encryption and secure-key encryption are other terms for symmetric encryption.

Block and stream algorithms are used to perform the two forms of symmetric encryptions. Electronic data blocks are subjected to block algorithms. The secret key is used to simultaneously change a specified collection of bit lengths

After that, the key is applied to each block. When network stream data is encrypted, the encryption system stores it in its memory components and waits for all blocks to arrive. The duration of time that the system waits can cause a serious security hole and put data security at risk. The approach entails reducing the size of the data block and combining it with the contents of prior encrypted data blocks until the rest of the blocks arrive.

This is referred to as feedback. The entire block is encrypted once it has been received. On the other hand, stream algorithms are not stored in the encryption system's memory but rather arrive in data stream algorithms. This technique is safer because the data is not held on a disc or system without encryption in the memory components.

How does it work?

Symmetric encryption is a type of cryptography that is encrypted and decrypted using a single key. That key, password, or passphrase is shared among the parties involved, and they can use it to decrypt or encrypt whatever messages they wish. It belongs to the public key infrastructure (PKI) ecosystem because it turns plain text, or readable data, into unreadable ciphertext, allowing secure communications to be sent over an insecure internet.

Some of the most common symmetric cryptography algorithms are the Data Encryption Standard (DES), which uses 56-bit keys; Triple DES, which repeats the DES algorithm three times with different keys; and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which the US National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends for securely storing and transferring data.

What is the Purpose of Symmetric Encryption?

While symmetric encryption is an older kind of encryption, it is faster and more efficient than asymmetric encryption, which strains networks due to data capacity limitations and excessive CPU usage. Symmetric cryptography is commonly used for bulk encryption / encrypting massive volumes of data, such as database encryption, due to its superior performance and speed (relative to asymmetric encryption). In the case of a database, the secret key may be used to encrypt or decrypt data exclusively by the database. The following are some examples of where symmetric cryptography is used:

  • Payment applications, such as card transactions require the protection of personally identifiable information (PII) to prevent identity theft and fraudulent charges.

  • Validations to ensure that the message's sender is who he says he is.

  • Hashing or generating random numbers

Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption: What's the Difference?

When communicating, asymmetric encryption uses a pair of public and private keys to encrypt and decode messages. On the other hand, Symmetric encryption uses a single key that is shared with the people who need to receive the message.

In comparison to symmetric encryption, asymmetric encryption is a relatively young technique.

Asymmetric encryption was developed to overcome the inherent problem of key sharing in symmetric encryption schemes by using a pair of public-private keys to avoid the need for key sharing.

Asymmetric encryption takes more time than symmetric encryption.

What Factors Affect a Symmetric Encryption Algorithm's Strength?

Not all symmetric algorithms are made equal, as you'll quickly discover. They differ in terms of strength, but what does cryptography entail? The basic answer is that cryptographic strength refers to how difficult it is for a hacker to decrypt data and access it. Of course, the longer answer varies based on the type of algorithm you're evaluating. Cryptographic strength, on the other hand, usually boils down to a few fundamental characteristics

  • The symmetric key's length, randomness, and unpredictability,

  • The algorithm's ability to resist or endure known attacks,

  • There are no back doors or any intentional flaws.

Symmetric encryption is a delicate balancing act since it necessitates algorithms and keys that are computationally difficult and practicable to utilize with acceptable performance.

Advantages of symmetric algorithms

Exceptionally safe

Symmetric key encryption can be highly secure when it employs a secure algorithm. As recognized by the US government, the Advanced Encryption Standard is one of the most extensively used symmetric key encryption schemes. Using ten petaflop machines, brute-force guessing the key using its most secure 256-bit key length would take about a billion years. Because the world's fastest computer, as of November 2012, runs at 17 petaflops, 256-bit AES is virtually impenetrable.


One of the disadvantages of public-key encryption methods is that they require very complex mathematics to function, making them computationally intensive. It's pretty simple to encrypt and decrypt symmetric key data, resulting in excellent reading and writing performance. Many solid-state drives, which usually are pretty fast, use symmetric key encryption to store data inside, yet they are still quicker than traditional hard drives that are not encrypted.


Because of their security and speed benefits, symmetric encryption algorithms like AES have become the gold standard of data encryption. As a result, they have enjoyed decades of industry adoption and acceptance.

Requires low computer resources

When compared to public-key encryption, single-key encryption uses fewer computer resources.

Minimizes message compromises

A distinct secret key is utilized for communication with each party, preventing a widespread message security breach. Only the messages sent and received by a specific pair of sender and recipient are affected if a key is compromised. Other people's communications are still safe.

Disadvantages of symmetric algorithms

The Sharing of the Key

The most significant drawback of symmetric key encryption is that the key must be communicated to the party with which you share data. Encryption keys aren't just plain text strings like passwords. They're essentially nonsense blocks. As a result, you'll need a secure method of delivering the key to the other party. Of course, you generally don't need to use encryption in the first place if you have a secure mechanism to communicate the key. With this in mind, symmetric key encryption is particularly beneficial for encrypting your data rather than distributing encrypted data.

If your security is compromised, you will risk more damage.

When someone obtains a symmetric key, they can decode anything that has been encrypted with that key. When two-way communications are encrypted by symmetric encryption, both sides of the conversation are vulnerable. Someone who obtains your private key can decode communications sent to you, but they won't decipher messages sent to the other person because they are encrypted with a different key pair.

The message's origin and authenticity cannot be guaranteed

Because both the sender and the recipient have the same key, messages cannot be validated as coming from a specific user. If there is a disagreement, this might be a problem.

Updated on 16-Mar-2022 06:17:40