Encrypt data at rest and in motion to ensure cyberattackers never gain access to your sensitive data or proprietary information.

What is Encryption?


Encryption is a method of encoding data (messages, PII data, PHI files, etc.) so that it is unusable or unreadable until it is decrypted. It is, in fact, a crucial layer of protection that can greatly reduce the risk of a breach. When encryption is put in place, only the authorized parties with keys (symmetric or asymmetric) can read or access that data.

Because encryption renders information unreadable to any unauthorized party, the information remains private and confidential, whether being transmitted or stored on a system. Unauthorized parties will see nothing but an unorganized assembly of bytes. Encryption technology therefore can provide assurance of data integrity, as some algorithms offer protection against forgery and tampering.

The ability of this technology to protect information requires that the encryption and decryption keys be properly managed by authorized parties.

A robust cybersecurity program ensures that encryption methodology can be integrated with your existing business technology.

How Does Encryption Work?

How Encryption Works: Symmetric vs. Asymmetric Key Systems


Complex algorithms, or sets of rules, are used to scramble the data being sent from plaintext into ciphertext. Once received, the data can then be decrypted only by using the key provided by the message originator.

Cryptographic key systems are essential to encryption technology. The two primary systems are symmetric and asymmetric.

Symmetric Key System

Also known as a “secret” key system, a symmetric key system requires all parties have the same key. The same key can be used to both encrypt and decrypt messages and must be kept secret or the security of the messaging is compromised.

For all parties to have the same key, there must be a way to securely distribute the key. While this can be done, the security controls needed can make this system quite impractical for widespread and commercial use on an open network, like the Internet.

Asymmetric Key System

This system, also known as a public/private key system, solves the distribution problem inherent in the symmetric key system. In this system, two keys are used. One key is kept secret, or “private,” while the other key is made widely available to anyone needing it and is referred to as the “public” key.

Both the public and private keys are mathematically related so that information encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted by the corresponding private key.

Types of Encryption

The type of encryption organizations need is determined often by the type of information needed to be protected. Here’s a brief roundup of a few of the key encryption algorithms.

AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)

This popular cipher is used by many public and private organizations. In fact, the US Government uses AES to keep its classified data secure, even information designated “Top Secret.” It is considered the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS).

As a symmetric, block cipher, AES encrypts blocks of text versus individual characters as some ciphers do. An identical key is used for both encryption and decryption, which explains the symmetry.

AES comes into play when transferring files via HTTPS, as well as in support of SSL encryption, and with the WPA2 protocol.

Encryption Solutions from Fortra


Fortra's security suite delivers robust solutions – from managed file transfer, digital rights management, and encryption for IBM i to adaptive data loss prevention and threat protection – for a wide range of encryption needs. Fortra delivers three layers of cybersecurity defense to provide the highest level of protection for your sensitive data at rest and in transit.

Combining automation and security helps ensure the risk of human error is minimized – no matter what platform you’re using. And, you can be assured that working with one solution provider, like Fortra, is a more streamlined, customer-focused experience.

Get Started with Encryption