Encryption benefits us all in our day to day lives and perhaps you weren’t even aware of that. However, there is a wide range of different situations in which encryption assists in the security of certain services.
For example, encryption methods are used to safely exchange data between web servers and browsers, withdrawal cash from ATMs, sent secure emails, online data storage (think about files, photos, videos, etc) and also when you send messages to your friends and family through messenger applications such as WhatsApp.
The different types of encryption methods such as symmetric and asymmetric encryption will not be explained in this article but instead, I’ll provide 5 different ways how everyone benefits from encryption in our daily life.
1. SSL Certificates
Browsing the internet is an activity that most of us do every day. On the internet, encryption comes in the form of Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) certificates. SSL protection is a security technology feature that website owners can buy in order to increase the security of their site.
You can recognize an encryption protected website from the green padlock and the “HTTPS” in the URL.
SSL protection establishes an encrypted communication channel between a browser and a web server.
An active SSL certificate on a web server is especially useful on websites where visitors enter sensitive information such as credit card information, phone numbers, IDs, etc. That means that all the data that is being transferred between a browser and a web server is encrypted for security and privacy reasons.
For example, if you’ve seen awesome shoes on a webshop, you’ll need to enter your shipping details and payment information. On a SSL secured website, this means that all of your sensitive information is encrypted, so that the readable text that you entered will be encrypted into ciphertext (unreadable text). This makes online shopping very safe!
2. Cash Withdrawal From ATMs
Banks use Hardware Security Module (HSM) encryption methods in order to protect your PIN and other banking information while the transaction is in transit in the network.
HSM encryption comes in many different types but, in essence, it’s function is to encrypt the 4 to 6 digit PIN of every person that uses the ATM. Then, the PIN is decrypted at the HSM side in order to execute and validate the transaction or money withdrawal.
This encryption method ensures that hackers won’t be able to get their hands on your PIN in case they intercept the network data in transit.
Webmail applications such as Gmail and Hotmail provide the earlier explained SSL encryption (HTTPS) in order to protect the user. However, it’s important to note that SSL encryption does not encrypt the text in emails.
Thus, without going too deep into the technical jibber-jabber, the NSA for example, would still be able to intercept your emails in readable text format.
Privacy-minded users are increasingly more often leaning towards end-to-end encryption email providers such as Protonmail and CounterMail. Millions of users have already made the switch to similar encryption protected email providers.
This email software ensures that every sent and received email is encrypted into ciphertext. So, even when the email is intercepted, it’s unreadable to anyone without the decryption key.
4. File Storage
Popular file storage platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive, with 500 million and 800 million users respectively, greatly emphasize on the security of the platform.
Obviously, the platform wouldn’t be used by millions of users – individuals and businesses – if it didn’t provide a secure environment to store important files, photos and videos.
That means that every file is encrypted into cipherdata in order to protect the users. Dropbox even stated in their security protocol that they break every piece of data into multiple other pieces and encrypt these smaller pieces of data one by one.
Both platforms protect files in transit between servers and apps, but also at rest (when it’s stored on their server). Which is incredibly helpful for all these millions of users, to be sure all their important data is safely stored online.
5. Messenger Apps (WhatsApp)
It comes to no surprise that WhatsApp values the privacy of its users, which is why WhatsApp implemented complete end-to-end encryption in their messenger application. That means that all your messages, photos, videos, voice messages and files are secured.
Only the person you’re communicating with is able to read what you’re sending. End-to-end encryption also means that even WhatsApp is not able to read any messages, because it’s stored on their server in encrypted format.
And the best thing is that WhatsApp automatically encrypts every message by default and there’s no way to turn off the encryption.
Bill here from PixelPrivacy.com. My blog is all about making the world of online security accessible to everyone. I pride myself in writing guides that I’m certain even my own mom could read! Be sure to head over to my blog if you’re interested in keeping your private information just that: Private!