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Hybrid encryption

Hybrid encryption definition

Hybrid encryption is a cryptographic technique that combines symmetric and asymmetric encryption algorithms to make communication or data transmission secure. Symmetric encryption is efficient, while public-key (asymmetric) encryption is convenient. Hybrid encryption combines the strengths of both encryption methods to create an efficient and secure way to protect information while it is being transmitted or stored. Simply put, it’s like using two locks to protect your valuables.

See also: end-to-end encryption

How hybrid encryption works

Step 1: The person receiving the message creates two encryption keys: public and private. They share the public key with anyone who wants to send them a message while keeping the private key safe and secret.

Step 2: The person sending the message takes the message they want to send and locks it up using a special secret key they randomly generated (symmetric encryption).

Step 3: The sender uses the recipient's public key to lock the special key they encrypted the message with. Since only the recipient has the corresponding private key, only they can unlock it.

Step 4: The sender sends the locked message and the locked secret key to the recipient through a secure channel (like a messaging app or email).

Step 5: The recipient receives the locked message and secret key only they can unlock. That's what the recipient does – they use their private key to unlock the secret key.

Step 6: With the unlocked secret key, the recipient can decrypt the message, which they can then read and understand.

Benefits of hybrid encryption

  • Security. Hybrid encryption combines the strengths of symmetric and asymmetric encryption, making it more secure than just one method.
  • Efficiency. By using symmetric encryption, hybrid encryption benefits from the speed and efficiency of symmetric algorithms. Symmetric encryption is faster than asymmetric encryption, making it suitable for encrypting large files or data streams.
  • Versatility. Hybrid encryption is widely supported and used in various security protocols and systems.