What is Symmetric Key Encryption?

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The simplest form of encryption is symmetric key encryption. This kind of encryption is also called private key encryption. With symmetric-key encryption, a single secret key can both lock the information and unlock the information.

Symmetric key encryption is mainly interesting in two situations −

Private encryption of data − The user encrypts data with a private key that the user does not reveal to anyone else. If the key is a good one, no one else can decrypt the data.

Private encryption of data can have several uses in the data warehouse. Any data that is especially sensitive could be so encrypted. Private Key encryption would work best for numeric fact table data that was not being constrained upon. Encrypted fact table data would need to be decrypted by the database engine as the numbers arrived in the answer set to be summed.

Shared secret encryption of data − If two parties already know the secret key and no one else knows the key, then the two parties have a virtually bulletproof means of communicating securely. This kind of shared secret is the basis of many forms of secure communication.

The big issue is how the two parties decide on the key and communicate it with each other without giving anyone else a chance to intercept the key. Symmetric key encryption is the basis for many secure communication schemes between data warehouse clients and servers and between users.

The main symmetric encryption technique that is relevant to data warehouse managers is the Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithm. The DES algorithm has been officially sanctioned by the U.S. government and by the International Standards Organization (ISO). The main thing data warehouse managers need to know is that the strength of the DES approach is based on the length of the key that a user chooses for encryption.

It can use symmetric key encryption to encrypt personal files, and we will use symmetric key encryption as a fleeting, temporary way to encrypt many forms of digital communications.

If two parties can acknowledge an encryption key, even if it is the same as the 56-bit DES key, then if they need the key for only 60 seconds, their session can be thought of as hugely secure during those 60 seconds. If the parties can agree on a different key for the subsequent 60 seconds and keep repeating this process, then a long, highly secure communication session can be established.

Symmetric key encryption has the advantage that coding and decoding a message with the pre-determined key is quick. Even if a communication has been set up with the more powerful public-key encryption technique we are about to describe, most of a communication episode will usually be handled by a symmetric key approach because of its speed.

Updated on 10-Feb-2022 10:59:32