Encryption Algorithms and Data Security

Subject: Tech & Engineering
Pages: 5
Words: 1434
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: College


The development and advancement in computer technology have brought many benefits. From the early days of mainframe computers to personal computers, computers have revolutionized every aspect of human life. However, rapid development in computing comes with the problem of data safety. There have been many instances of data breaches in the recent past. As such, powerful cryptographical and encryption solutions developed over the years are vital to data safety.

Development of Encryption Standards, State of Standards Today and Recent Developments

In the late 1990s, the National Institute of standards and technology (NIST) was undecided between developing a new cryptographic standard to secure commercial and government data versus embracing the existing encryption methods (Smid,2021). However, the existing encryption standards were perceived inadequate to provide the powerful data security needed after the 20th century. The web had just been developed approximately a decade earlier, and many entities were beginning to utilize the web rapidly. Hence, a reliable encryption standard was needed to deal with the threat levels envisioned for the 21st century (Smid, 2021). NIST had a few options. First, it could let a new entity devise a new encryption algorithm or propose a short-time remedy with a short life span. Moreover, the organization could begin the development of a new encryption standard. In late 1996, NIST began the development of the advanced encryption standard (AES). AES was touted as a powerful encryption algorithm that could last longer than its predecessors.

There were two dominant standards of encryption in the 1990s, the Escrowed encryption standard (EES) and the Data encryption standard (DES). The process of developing a new encryption standard began in the early 1990s. The US government indicated that the algorithm was slowly losing its viability (Smid, 2021). Technology is often developed based on the requirements of a particular time in history. Technological advancements in the 1990s were happening rapidly, perhaps because of the advent of the internet and the need to develop new areas of science such as material science (Smid, 2021). In addition, other algorithms, such as SKIPJACK and EES, were deemed too inferior. The DES algorithm was vastly used to secure financial transactions throughout the world. DES was also used to protect users’ personal identification numbers (PINs) in retail store transactions. Many cryptographical solutions in the United States and the world was based on the DES. The international organization approved the DES for Standardization (ISO) as the global standard in 1986 (Smid, 2021). On the other hand, it shocked the international community when the United States voted against DES because of security concerns.

The SKIPJACK algorithm used a key of 80 bits, while DES used a key of 56 bits. After the inception of the DES, there were major concerns that encrypting devices with powerful algorithms would mean difficulty for law enforcement officers to decrypt data in the event of a crime. Hence in early 1993, the US government sanctioned using a special encryption algorithm called SKIPJACK, which law enforcement agencies could use.

Recent Developments

The development of encryption algorithms is predicted to take a different turn because successful breakthroughs in quantum computing research would lend processors more computing power, therefore, profound advancements in encryption will be necessary (Orrin, 2021). Traditional processors use electrical signals to process data, while quantum computers use particles such as electrons to encode information. Moreover, the cyber security industry is furthering the development of encryption in various areas. The approaches include increasing key size to protect against powerful decryption methods. Similarly, an effort is directed toward developing new public key algorithms that can sustain quantum decryption (Orrin, 2021). Homomorphic encryption is a concept that can enable users to make calculations on encrypted information without initial decryption as well.

Three Standards in Use Today, their Origins, Development, Advantages and Disadvantages

The AES Encryption

The AES encryption uses a symmetric-block mechanism to protect sensitive data. The algorithm is used in software and hardware worldwide. The standard is crucial for cybersecurity and the protection of classified information (Bernstein & Cobb, 2022). The development of AES began in early 1997 after the National institute of standards and technology (NIST) sanctioned the development of AES as the next-generation encryption standard. AES encryption is seamlessly implemented in software, hardware, and smart cards. The algorithm provides sufficient security against common attacks in cyberspace. The algorithm was initially intended to be used by the US government. On the other hand, nongovernment organizations using the algorithm are subjected to the United States’ export control.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Since its inception, the algorithm has proven robust against cyber security attacks. Its ability to withstand brute force decryption is attributed to its lengthy key sizes. The algorithm can have key sizes of 128,256, and 192 bits, respectively (Neha, 2020). Also, implementing the algorithm in software and hardware adds to its ability to sustain cyber-attacks. Moreover, AES encryption is open-source, and thus, it is highly accessible for commercial, personal and governmental applications. Conversely, its biggest disadvantage is its difficult implementation procedure. (Neha, 2020), and it requires a lot of computational power to function properly, based on the nature of its algebraic structure.

The RSA Encryption

RSA encryption is one of the most used cryptography techniques. It is mainly employed in securing the information on the web. RSA is key to the rapid development of e-commerce. It is applied in most online transactions to secure personal information such as a customer’s credit card balance and credit card number. Three individuals invented the encryption standard in the late 1970s at MIT. The algorithm’s name denotes the first letters of the inventors’ surnames. Hence, they developed an algorithm that enables the decoding and encoding of data between different parties. The RSA algorithm allows decrypting and encrypting information without mandating different parties to have a common secret key.

Advantages and Disadvantages

RSA is robust compared to other symmetrical key encryption algorithms. Additionally, RSA encryption has managed to solve the problems associated with symmetric cryptography algorithms, such as the confidentiality of users (Neha, 2020). In addition, RSA has a great reputation for securing data over the internet. RSA also enables the use of digital signatures. On the other hand, RSA encryption may fail to secure a network because it uses only asymmetric encryption. However, for complete encryption to occur, both asymmetric and symmetric encryption may be needed. RSA is used by many people, resulting in slow data transfer on the internet. Similarly, RSA requires the device of a receiver to possess a lot of processing power for decryption.

Twofish encryption

The Twofish encryption uses 128-bit keys to encrypt information. Nonetheless, the keys can run up to 256 bits in length. Since the Twofish encryption utilizes block ciphers, it employs deterministic steps and a symmetric key to encrypt data. The Twofish algorithm was invented by Bruce Schneier and other figures in 1998 (Zahorski, 2022). It might be surprising to realize that cybercriminals have never cracked the algorithm and that it is sometimes more secure than the AES algorithm. The algorithm remains open source and can be used by any individual because it was never patented.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Twofish algorithm is extremely secure because of its long 128-bit key, which hackers might find difficult to crack. The Twofish algorithm is also flexible since performance trade-offs are possible, according to network implementation and the nature of encryption; this allows the standard to be applied in various applications. The algorithm is also useful when securing highly confidential information is necessary because it gives users the ability to base their encryption based on its standard, however, one drawback of Twofish encryption is that the algorithm is slow compared to other encryption algorithms. In addition, Twofish uses pre-computed keys, which may be vulnerable to attacks.

Importance and Impacts of the Standards

Encryption is vital to any organization that produces and stores data. Encryption converts normal text to cipher text, which cannot be read before decryption. Hence, encryption makes it cumbersome for cyber criminals to access an entity’s information. Similarly, encryption helps businesses save billions of dollars because when useful organizational data lands in the hands of hackers, huge ransoms are often demanded. Companies using cloud computing should especially consider having heavily protected information systems.


The existence of powerful encryption algorithms and the development of next-generation standards are important for data security in a highly interconnected world. The pace of technological change in the 21st century is unprecedented. Emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence use a lot of data and generate plenty of data at the same time. With these new developments, it is inevitable that encryption will play a big role in the technological landscape.


Bernstein, C & Cobb, M (2022). What is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)? Definition from Search Security. Web.

Neha, T (2020). What is RSA algorithm in cryptography? Key generation, encryption, decryption, advantages & disadvantages – binary terms. Web.

Orrin, S (2021). The future of data encryption: what you need to know now. Web.

Smid, M. E. (2021). Development of the advanced encryption standard. journal of research of the national institute of standards and technology, 126, 1-18.

Zahorski, A (2022). Everything you need to know about the twofish encryption algorithm. Web.