Encryption: A VPN Building Block

Date October 21, 2019
Article Authors

When working remotely to improve “cyber posture,” we typically recommend a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as an encrypted “tunnel” between sending and receiving networks to protect the confidentiality of data in the communication. A VPN would not be viable without encryption.

Encryption is a mathematical function. It is the part of a broad science of secret languages, called cryptography, that involves the process of converting plaintext into ciphertext, or “encryption,” and back again, known as “decryption.” Encryption has been around for centuries; one of the first examples dating back to ancient Rome, the Caesar cypher and uses the substitution of a letter by another one further in the alphabet to protect the secrecy of a message.

Central to understanding how encryption—and, indirectly, how VPNs increase security because of encryption—is the number of encryption “keys” that are used during the process of converting plaintext to cyphertext and back. At the highest level, there are two types of encryption:

  1. Symmetric, where the same key is used to both encrypt and decrypt the data
  2. Asymmetric, where “The Public Key” is used to encrypt, and “The Private Key” is used to decrypt. (The Public/Private Key Pair are “related” mathematically.)

Neither type of encryption is better than the other. In fact, both of these technologies are critical in achieving cybersecurity when utilized properly.

As always, HBK Risk Advisory Services (RAS) is glad to offer recommendations on your cyber security program and practices. Contact Bill Heaven at 330-758-8613 or via email at wheaven@hbkcpa.com. HBK RAS is here to answer your questions and discuss your concerns.

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