What is End-to-End Encryption (E2EE)?

End-to-End Encryption

End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) is a secure communication method that prevents third-parties from accessing data. At the same time, the data is being transferred from one end of the device to another.

  • In E2EE, data is encrypted in the sender system or device, and only the intended recipient can remove it from encryption.

  • The message will not be read or interrupted by an Internet Service Provider (ISP), application service provider, attacker, or any other organization or service on its way to the destination.

  • Many messaging providers use end-to-end encryption, and some of these providers face controversy over their decision to accept E2EE.

  • The technology makes it difficult for donors to share user information from their activities with the authorities and provide confidential messages to people involved in illegal activities.

How Does E2EE Work?

The cryptographic keys used to encrypt and decrypt the messages are stored in repositories. This method uses public-key encryption.

  • A public key, or asymmetric, encryption, uses a public key to be shared with others and a private key.

  • Once shared, others can use the public key to encrypt the message and send it to the public key holder.

  • The message can only be deleted using the corresponding private key, also called the stop key.

  • There is often a mediator who sends the messages between the two parties involved in the exchange in online communication. That mediator is usually an ISP server, a communications company, or various other organizations. Essential public infrastructure using E2EE ensures that communicators are not able to listen to the messages sent.

  • The public key is embedded in a certificate that has been digitally signed by a recognized certificate authority to ensure that it is the legitimate key created by the intended recipient (CA). The validity of the CA's public key may be relied upon because it is widely distributed and known; a certificate signed by that public key can be assumed to be genuine. The CA would presumably not sign a certificate that associated a different public key with the same name because the certificate associates the recipient's name and public key

Advantages of End-to-End Encryption

Data security is important. End-to-end encryption plays a vital role in the financial, health, and communications industries. It is often used to assist businesses in complying with privacy and security requirements and laws.

Following are some of the advantages of using E2EE −

  • Security in Transit – Public key cryptography, which saves private keys on endpoint devices, is used for end-to-end encryption. Only those persons with access to the endpoint devices can decrypt the messages using these keys. Hence, only those with access to the endpoint devices can view the messages.

  • Tamper-proof – The decryption key does not need to be sent with E2EE because the recipient already has it. The recipient will not be able to decrypt a message encrypted using a public key if it is altered or tampered with in transit. Therefore, the manipulated contents will not be visible.

  • Compliance – Regulatory compliance rules bind several companies, requiring encryption-level data protection. End-to-end encryption makes data unreadable, which can help companies protect it.

Disadvantages of End-to-end encryption

E2EE does a decent job of safeguarding digital communications in general, but it does not ensure data security. The following are some of the drawback of E2EE −

  • Endpoint definition is difficult – At specific stages during transmission, some E2EE implementations allow the encrypted data to be decrypted and re-encrypted. As a result, it's critical to properly describe and distinguish the communication circuit's endpoints.

  • There is far too much privacy – Because service providers cannot provide law enforcement with access to the content, government and law enforcement agencies are concerned that end-to-end encryption can protect those transmitting unlawful content.

  • Metadata that is visible – Although messages in transit are encrypted and hard to read, information about the message is still available, such as the date sent and the receiver, which could be valuable to an interloper.

  • Endpoint protection – Encrypted data may be exposed if endpoints are exploited.

  • This is not a future-proof product – Although end-to-end encryption is a robust technology currently, quantum computing is expected to render cryptography useless in the future.

Updated on: 05-Nov-2021


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