Questions Technology

Why should I use authenticated encryption?

Airtract

Rose M Domingo

Anything but predictable

In an era of the cyber world, we are witnessing advancements daily. One such massive development that revolutionized our way of living is the Internet. In the present scenario, we rely on the Internet for almost all our daily tasks. But with the increase in the positive impact of the internet, the negative sides flourished too. The number of cyber crimes increased tremendously, and as a result, it becomes essential to protect our sensitive information using encryption.

What is encryption?

Encryption is the procedure of converting sensitive information/data into codes to prevent any unauthorized extraction of such valuable information.

Authenticated Encryption (AE) are types of encryption where both the confidentiality and authenticity of data are assured. The attributes associated with AE can be accessed under a single programming interface which gives access to the following set of functions:

  • Encryption
    Input: Comprising of plaintext, a key, and a header (optional)
    Output: Comprising of the ciphertext and the authentication tag/message authentication code.

  • Decryption
    Input: Comprising of ciphertext, a key, authentication tag, a header (optional).
    Output: Provides plaintext (under normal conditions), and an error message when the authentication tag and the provided ciphertext/header do not match.

The header part in Authenticated Encryption is essential as it helps in providing authenticity and integral networking/metadata storage protection. Apart from this, Authenticated Encryption protects against selected ciphertext attacks. Authenticated Encryption (AE) also ensures protection against decryption of improperly generated ciphertext. 

Some other additional benefits of Authenticated Encryption are as follows:

  • Increased Security and protection
    AE based schemes ensure the protection of the highly sensitive data (which is generally lower than the key space, for AES it is around 264).    

  • Facilitates Parallelism
    AE facilitates parallelism. When a larger number of resources are available, the user can run the encryption and decryption process in parallel. 

  • Online Encryption
    AE allows easy encryption on data availability, irrespective of the knowledge about the data length.

  • Patents
    The Offset Codebook Mode (OCB) mode in AE is patented which leads to the lesser use and analysis of this scheme.

  • Faster Tag-Update
    AE allows faster tag-updates which ensures faster encryption of a large amount of sensitive data, like while encrypting a hard drive.

Authenticated Encryption ensures both confidentialities as well as authenticity to all sorts of highly sensitive data. It is simpler to implement as it uses a single key, and is more robust as it restricts the degree of freedom of the user to perform any wrong choice.

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