What is end-to-end Encryption?
You must have come across the term “end-to-end” encryption multiple times while using web applications such as WhatsApp. From the context, it’s often clear it is a privacy and safety feature. But have you wondered what end-to-end encryption actually means? How does it work, and why is it important? Read on to understand more on what is end-to-end encryption.
What is end-to-end encryption?
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is the process of encrypting or converting data into a code till it reaches the intended recipient. Only individuals who have the access and technology to decrypt the message will see its content. Doing so ensures that no middle-party can see your messages in the simple way you typed and sent them. It will protect your private data till the person on the other side receives it.
HTTPS websites, Wi-Fi, mobile devices and some PCs employ various forms of encryption to secure your data. If the application you use for communication encrypts messages, emails, files and any other media, even the app developer wouldn’t see what you’re communicating. E2EE is a powerful feature that protects the privacy of your data transactions.
Encryption-in-transit vs Encryption-at-rest and why E2EE is better.
In applications such as Facebook messenger, the message you send are encrypted “in transit” between two pairs, namely you and Facebook and Facebook and the receiver. In transit here refers to the movement or the transfer of the data from one point to the other. The message log is then “encrypted at rest” before it gets stored in the Facebook servers. “Encrypted at rest” is similar to how you protect sensitive information by storing it in an iron vault with solid locks. But here’s one important point to note – in both types of encryption, the service provider has the decryption key. The service provider or whoever is in the middle of the communication can view the message contents.
That is why E2EE is considered the better encryption method. End-to-end encryption ensures no one gets to peek into your private conversations. The message can be seen only by the sender and the receiver.
The pros and cons of end-to-end encryption
One of the critical benefits of E2EE is how it restricts the flow of data to the sender and receiver. It ensures all your communications are private and safe. Newer, advanced encryption systems are being developed constantly, and the existing systems are also updated regularly for optimal performance.
Another advantage of end-to-end encryption is how it makes the message decryptable only by the recipient. No one can meddle in between and alter the information. Today’s encryption methods make it visible if someone tried to change the encrypted message. This emphasizes the integrity of your communications.
Now, for the cons. While E2EE does hide the contents, it doesn’t hide that you sent a message to someone. The applications and authorities will know when and where, and how many messages you sent.
End-to-end encryption won’t be able to authenticate the receiver or the sender. Anyone who gets hold of your devices will be able to communicate freely. So, you’ll have to use other protective features to ensure the total safety of your communications.
Even with its limitations, E2EE is one of the most efficient ways to secure data transfer. More and more communication services are enabling E2EE now for the same reason.
Is End-to-End Encryption Just About Communications?
No, it isn’t. While end-to-end encryption is primarily associated with communications between a sender and a receiver, it can also be applied to other services. Password managers are an excellent example of E2EE services. Here you’re the one on both ends. The company that created the password manager won’t be able to go through your stored passwords. You hold the key to decrypting your passwords.
Another example is encrypted file storage services. When you use such services, make sure you do not forget the decryption password. While some of them offer recovery keys, there’s a chance you won’t be able to access your data if you forget them as well.
End-to-end encryption is a beneficial tool for private conversations. It will help transfer data more securely across the web and protect your sensitive information. So, the next time you see the E2EE feature on an app, you know what it means and how it works. For any queries on cybersecurity, Contact Us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Encrypted in transit: Encrypted in transit refers to encrypting messages before transmitting them and decrypting them at the destination.
Encrypted at rest: At-rest encryption means that the data is stored as an encrypted sequence.