Cryptography network security covers two main areas: the encryption of information as it goes over a network and the security of cryptographic assets on a network. The encryption of networked information is a wide field. There are various methods of encrypting information, but public key encryption and hash functions are two of the more common. The securing of cryptographic assets has been a problem since networked computers became common—the best security measures typically center on secondary encryption methods and employee training.
When information is sent over a network, it is only supposed to go to the computer to which it is sent. In most cases, that’s the only place it ends up. In a few cases, the information is intercepted and scanned for content. This information is very lightly encrypted, but to anyone that understands how to intercept the information, the encryption poses no trouble.
This is where cryptography network security comes in. By using pre-encrypted messages, if the information is intercepted, then it is much harder to decode. The most common true encryption method used in cryptography network security is called public key encryption. This encryption method relies on two separate keys. One key is public and available to anyone that wants it, while the other is private and secret.
A user that intends to send information to another user over the network uses the receiver’s public key to generate an encryption. This encryption is totally unique. The receiver gets the message and uses the private key. The keys verify each other, and the message decodes.
The other common cryptography network security isn’t actually cryptography at all, but it is so similar that it is lumped in with typical cryptographic methods. A hash function takes a large amount of data and compresses it down into a series of numbers. This both reduces the size of the information and makes it totally unreadable. Only a person that has access to the function that created the numerical hash can reverse the message back to its original form.
The other use of cryptography network security is keeping cryptographic information safe. Keeping a computer encrypted or sending public key messages is only safe as long as the person intercepting the messages doesn’t have access to the decryption keys. As a result, many companies spend a great deal of time and money keeping keys safe.
The backbone of this type of cryptography network security is employee training. The vast majority of compromised keys come from employees needlessly leaving important information unattended. Employees with network access are generally advised to learn the importance of keeping their keys on the company key server and never taking portable devices like cell phones or laptops with encryption data out of the office. Employees without network access, like support staff, may need to know what to look for to spot potential physical dangers like open doors and portable devices.