How Encryption Works

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the process of scrambling or enciphering data so it can be read only by someone with the means to return it to its original state. It is a crucial feature of a safe and trustworthy Internet and it helps provide data security for sensitive information. 

When is Encryption Used?

Encryption is commonly used to protect data stored on computer systems and data transmitted via computer networks, including the Internet. Financial transactions and private messaging communications often use encryption to increase security. Encryption is important when we need to find out whether data has been tampered with (data integrity), to increase people’s confidence that they are communicating with the people they think are communicating with (authentication) and to be sure that messages were sent and received.

How Encryption Works

For data communicated over a network, modern encryption scrambles data using a secret value or key known only by the recipient and the sender. For stored data, the secret value is typically known only by the data owner. There are different types of encryption and the best systems balance safety and efficiency.

End-to-end encryption is the most secure form of encryption that you can use. End-to-end encryption is any form of encryption in which only the sender and intended recipient can read the message. No third party, even the party providing the communication service, has knowledge of the encryption key.

Why Encryption Matters

Personal Security

Encryption is more important than ever as Internet-based crime is one of the fastest growing security threats. End-to-end encryption, the most secure form of encryption, ensures that sensitive, confidential information transmitted by billions of people online every day remains confidential and out of the hands of criminals.

National Security

End-to-end encryption helps prevent spies, terrorists, and hostile governments from accessing and exploiting confidential communications of government officials, and penetrating computer systems and databases that could cause wide-scale, systemic disruptions to economies, infrastructure, and security. 

It also protects the private, confidential communications of law enforcement, military personnel, government officials overseeing classified operations, and emergency responders. Encryption also protects highly sensitive systems intrinsically tied to national security, including systems that power the electrical grid, databases containing confidential data on citizens, and databases of financial institutions critical to the economic stability of sovereign nations.