AES Encryption in Everyday Life: How It Keeps Our Digital World Secure

AES Encryption

The evolution of cybersecurity threats necessitates companies and individuals to employ powerful AES encryption protocols to protect their data. According to statistics, data security is a growing market with an annual growth of 14.6%, projected to reach 1.7 billion US dollars.

Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is the best encryption method. It is a symmetric block cipher used for government computer security, electronic data protection, and cybersecurity. It encrypts (encodes) sensitive data and decrypts (decodes) it through AES encryption keys (also called data keys) to protect the information transfer through electronic means.

AES provides excellent long-term data security against brute force attacks. Let’s begin understanding AES encryption and its other relevant aspects to prevent data security risks in everyday life.

The Rise of AES in Cybersecurity

Rise of AES in Cybersecurity
Rise of AES in Cybersecurity

In 2001, Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) was adopted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), United States. It was done to protect sensitive government information and replace the old Data Encryption Standard (DES).

DES used a 56-bit key length that was no longer suitable for the powerful hackers of recent times. With a brute force attack, they could easily crack the encryption key by trying every possible key in the 56-bit cipher.

NIST has, therefore, set higher standards for data security. They defined a new AES encryption algorithm that gave rise to the Advanced Encryption Standard.

Science behind AES

The NIST asked to extend the key length and integrate different encryption keys into the advanced encryption algorithm with improved processing power. AES Cipher codes with these key lengths have been created:

  1. 128-bit encryption of secret key size.
  2. 192-bit encryption of secret key size.
  3. 256-bit encryption of secret key size.

Another criterion for the development of a secure cipher was the requirement not to file for a patent. This allowed other developers to incorporate the new AES algorithm into their programs to improve the security of encrypted data.

After a lengthy review and fierce competition, NIST announced the winner of the tender in October 2000. The Rijndael algorithm of the two Belgian developers, Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen, met the requirements. Since then, it has been used as an AES algorithm and a standard.

Everyday Technologies Relying on AES Encryption

Here are some of the examples where everyday technology are relying on AES encryption:

  1. Smartphones and Mobile Devices
  2. Password managers like LastPass and Secure Messaging Apps such as WhatsApp
  3. Online Banking and Financial Transactions
  4. E-commerce and Online Shopping
  5. Cloud Storage Services
  6. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
  7. Wi-Fi Networks or wireless networks
  8. Medical Devices
  9. Secure Email Communication

The Mechanics Behind AES: A Simplified Look

So, the question is, how does the AES encryption work?

Rijndael’s AES algorithm uses a symmetric cipher. To simplify the AES encryption method, analysis of the AES mechanism shows that there is only one Advanced Encryption Standard key for transmission from sender to receiver and from receiver to sender.

AES uses this key to encrypt data using a mathematical process and decrypt data using the same key later. By doing so, symmetric encryption is much more secure than asymmetric encryption with the same key length.

Encryption Process of Rijndael’s AES scheme

The encryption process of Rijndael’s AES scheme is a symmetric block cipher that divides incoming plain text into a block of four rows and four columns. A block has 16 bytes in total, so each box contains one byte. When going through the AES encryption or AES decryption process, each block goes through several rounds of four stages, i.e.

  1. Byte substitution
  2. Row shifting
  3. Column mixing
  4. Addition of round key

Depending on the AES key length, there are ten turns for AES-128, twelve turns for AES-192, and a total of 14 turns for the AES-256 bit key. The four stages repeat each turn.

The result of this AES process is known as AES encryption, which leaves nothing about the content of information or message visible to the naked eye. When decrypting data, Rijndael goes through all stages of all rounds (repetitions) in reverse order. This is how the plain text is again created from the cipher.

Is AES encryption secure? Yes! Because the attack is useless against this AES algorithm.

Case Studies: Where AES Made the Difference

AES encryption has made a difference in several industries. Some of the examples are briefly shared below.

Aetna Health Insurance Company

Insurance providers, like Aetna, employ Advanced Encryption Standard to reduce risk exposure in particular devices that access consumer information. Aetna, one of the largest health insurance companies in the US, protects patient data with Advanced Encryption Standard.

AES encryption secures patient data and protects it against illegal access in the healthcare sector. Following Aetna’s security framework, AES encryption is an essential component that helps to ensure the company that patient data is always protected.

AES Encryption in Government Communications: National Security Agency (NSA)

In the government sector, AES encryption is crucial for ensuring that communications are secure and shielded from illegal access during data transfer. Sensitive data is always protected thanks to Advanced Encryption Standard, a fundamental part of data protection for all digital applications.

For this purpose, this encryption is a vital part of the NSA security framework. Compared to other methods, the NSA selected AES encryption to secure national security systems due to its impenetrable and extensive protection.

AES versus Other Types of Encryption: Why It’s the Gold Standard

Four types of systems with variable encryption algorithms are present, i.e., AES, DES, Blowfish, and RIvest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA); however, AES is one of the best protocols available and a preferred encryption method.

AES encryption is mathematically proficient with amazing computing power and advanced encryption algorithms. Its key advantage, in comparison to other encryption methods, is its various key length options (128-bit, 192-bit, and 256-bit key). This makes it exponentially more powerful than all data encryption methods.

So far, no scientist or hacker has managed to launch a real attack on the encryption algorithm of AES. With the evolution of the calculation capacities of computers, it would, however, be possible that an AES key will one day be cracked. But at present, this is not yet in sight.

Exceptionally, AES encryption is considered a gold standard for encryption as it provides robust security, versatility, easy encryption method, cost-effectiveness, resilience to attacks, and adequate speed to prevent brute force attacks.

AES in Online Banking, Shopping, and Communications

Like other industries, AES encryption is widely used in interconnected online banking, shopping, and communications domains. The purpose is to protect sensitive data such as banking credentials, financial information, messages, passwords, etc.

As consumers engage in the online shopping experience, Advanced Encryption Standard assures them that their information is secured from potential cyber breaches.

In digital communication, AES encryption establishes a secure territory during user communication for information sharing from unauthorized access.

So far, AES is one of the best encryption protocols available on the market. With the evolution in cybersecurity trends, the future of it holds exciting prospects. Considering future trends, the AES encryption algorithm is adaptive enough to secure digital data as things evolve.

Further developments in cloud and quantum computing, along with machine learning, will open new doors for AES encryption by identifying anomalies in the AES key schedule and enhancing computing power, hence AES encryption efficiency.

AES encryption will likely get even better as it tends to adapt to new cybersecurity trends to protect data confidentiality and privacy, ensuring data protection.

Final Words

AES encryption is a crucial part of most cybersecurity frameworks and a foundational element of data protection in all digital platforms.

It is widely used in everyday life as it is easy to use and provides exceptional long-term security and adequate speed.

This method, implemented in various everyday technologies, is considered the gold standard for securing sensitive information against brute-force attacks. With increasing computing, it also expected to significantly enhance data security due to computing and machine learning developments.

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