Modern computers come with encryption tools that makes it inaccessible to anyone without the right key. What is encryption and how does it function? This article explains the fundamentals of encryption and how it helps secure sensitive information from hackers.

Data encryption is the process of converting visible information into a coded form that can only deciphered with the correct password by authorized users. It is an important component of cyber-security that provides the security of data and protects sensitive information away from non-authorized users.

A common form of encryption uses cryptographic mathematical models to transform the original data into a fragmented set of characters that isn’t easily accessible (known as ciphertext). The encryption algorithms “scramble” individual bits in a random fashion, such that even with enormous computing power, it could take a long time to try and figure out the key to convert back to plain text.

For instance, if you use the most common form of encryption, known as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) for your digital files, every one of the ones and zeros which make up the file is scrambled ten times, creating a semi-random pattern. It would take computers several hours to change all the numbers into the proper order, without the key.

Encryption can also help prevent information leaks and ransomware attacks. If a hacker steals encrypted data, they won’t be able to access it and will be unable to blackmail the company or anyone else involved in the risk of releasing the stolen information to the dark web. Additionally, encryption protects backup systems from hackers since they aren’t able access the data in its original form.