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Digital envelope

Digital envelope

(also digital wrapper, digital envelope encryption)

Digital envelope definition

A digital envelope (or a digital wrapper) is a secure digital data container that protects an electronic message through data authentication and encryption. Digital envelopes are the equivalent of placing a letter into a sealed envelope to make it more secure and resistant to tampering. A digital envelope is encrypted twice using both the secret and public key encryption methods.

What makes digital envelopes secure

  • A digital envelope uses two encryption layers for security: secret (also known as symmetric) key encryption and public key (also known as asymmetric) encryption.
  • Secret key encryption is used for encoding and decoding the message.
  • Public key cryptography sends a secret key to the receiving party over a network. No plain text communication is required.

Common digital envelopes

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption. Developed in 1991 by Phil Zimmermann, this popular cryptography software provides privacy and guarantees the authenticity of sent and received data. PGP encryption can encrypt and decrypt emails, text messages, and files or create digital signatures.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security