Network encryption definition
Network encryption is a cybersecurity method of encoding data carried over a network to safeguard it from unauthorized access, interruption, or modification. Users apply network encryption to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of the data between two or more devices on a network. This process implements different methods, standards, and tools that make the data unreadable, such as anonymization, encryption, or data masking. The encryption method involves transforming plain text data into ciphertext with the help of an encryption algorithm and a secret key. Only the authorized receiver with the right key may decrypt the ciphertext and restore it to its original state. It is possible to implement network encryption at the application, transport, and network layers of the network stack. Secure communication protocols like HTTPS or IPsec usually use it.
Advantages of network encryption
- Data integrity. Network encryption doesn’t allow unauthorized alterations to the data during transmission.
- Data confidentiality. The data is unreadable to unauthorized parties, which helps protect sensitive information.
- Authentication. Network encryption includes a secret key that verifies the identity of the receiver, preventing malicious access to the data.
Disadvantages of network encryption
- Performance impact. The data encryption and decryption may overwhelm the network and increase latency.
- Key management. A secure key management system is necessary for encryption to maintain the privacy and integrity of the encryption keys. The encrypted data is no longer protected if the keys are stolen or lost.
- Higher cost. The price of setting up and maintaining a secure network may increase because encryption needs extra resources like specialized hardware and software. It includes the cost of buying and maintaining encryption hardware and software, the cost of employing experts to run the encryption system, and the cost of additional computing power for encryption and decryption.