Cracking The Code: On Encryption

Cracking The Code: On Encryption

2021-06-06T08:47:55+00:0031 May, 2021|Technology|
  • a person tries to hack an encrypted computer

Unlocking the World of Encryption

When I was in elementary school, computers were not as abundant as they are today. It was the moment my father brought home the latest family computer, embedded in it, the Intel 80386 microprocessor, that informed me of the beauty behind what computers were capable of. In those days, when classmates wanted to share notes, we would often exchange a secret note, scrambling the letters so that in the event that the teacher would obtain the note, the message would be illegible to them. The notes were a secure encrypted channel that allowed us to control privacy in our messages.

They were the keys to our world, and there was no way in without them.

en·​cryp·​tion: the process of converting information or data into a code, especially to prevent unauthorized access.

The two primary types of encryption used today are known as Symmetric Encryption and Asymmetric Encryption. But before diving into these, let’s go over a valuable term: cryptographic keys.

Cryptographic keys are the codes or strings of data used to encrypt and decrypt data. As the second half of the term implies, these codes serve as keys to lock and unlock cryptographic functions. 

Symmetric Encryption: A Shared Secret 

When sending personal letters, Julius Caesar used a method that is today known as Caesar Cipher or Caesar’s Code. It was one of the earliest, most simplified methods of encryption, whereby the technique was to substitute alphanumeric characters by shifting each character a certain number down the alphabet. To send the encryption for “WAVE BL,” we would send “JNIR OY.” If the message receiver knows our key, they will also know how to decrypt the message, rotating 13 characters backward in the alphabet, returning to the original “WAVE BL.”

In symmetric encryption, the same key is applied to encrypt the plaintext (the unencrypted information) and decrypt the ciphertext (the unreadable output). In other words, the knowledge of what is shared is identical on both sides. 

Symmetric-Encryption

Asymmetric Encryption: A Stronger Form of Authentication 

Asymmetric encryption uses two distinct keys to encrypt and decrypt. This key pair is commonly named “Public Key” and “Private Key”; the latter is known as a secret key. These two keys are mathematically connected yet, upon use, serve opposite functions — where one is used to encrypt, the other must be used to decrypt.

Using Asymmetric Encryption to transfer data

When using cryptographic keys to transfer data, we first need to identify the recipient of the message. The sender of the message will encrypt the document with the recipient’s Public Key. The recipient will then be able to read the message by decrypting the information with their Private Key.

Using Asymmetric Encryption for Digital Signatures 

Digital Signatures verify the authenticity (the origin) and integrity (the content) of a digital message or a digitized document. Think of them as unique virtual fingerprints, an electronic stamp, that goes along with any given message or digital document. The Private Key is used to encrypt the message, and the Public Key decrypts the message. This verifies that the message originated from the entity that holds the Private Key.

The application of digital signatures ensures that the message being shared is free from data alterations and that the origination of the document and the sender’s identity is authentic. 

The Drawbacks of Digital Signatures

  • Implementing in-house digital signatures: As beneficial as it is to have an added layer of security to a document; digital signatures can be cumbersome and costly. Users must first purchase a unique key pair, provided by the certificate authority (CA), apply dedicated software to sign data with the digital signatures, and validate the signatures of the data received. It is crucial to keep up to date with the algorithms and their advances — once a minor defect is detected, that algorithm is then void, and a different key pair must be used.
  • Lack of possession and time-stamp: Digital signatures verify authenticity and validity but do not manage any aspect of who possesses the document and when. The result is that several people can present the same digitally signed document, and there is no way to assess the valid possession holder.

Digital Signatures Reimagined with WAVE BL 

Distributed networks resolve the time-stamp and possession drawbacks mentioned above. Working in a distributed network enables a trust mechanism that makes it much harder for malicious actors to bypass a distributed system’s security with abnormal behavior in a real-time environment.

WAVE BL reimagined an application of asymmetric encryption and digital signatures for members of the supply chain to conduct paper-based global trade transactions digitally. Tying distributed networks to digitally signed document distributions verifies the sole possessor of any given document and validates the entire hand-off journey of the document accurately. 

The ingenuity of our solution enables total confidentiality while working in fully transparent blockchain networks (a type of distributed network), utilizing asymmetric encryption. As a result, WAVE BL eliminates nearly any threat of document forgery and misinformation by embedding a significant security element of exchanging sensitive documents. The supply chain entities can collaborate seamlessly on a singular platform that preserves confidentiality and ensures the authenticity of any digital trade document and process associated with a shipment.

To learn more about the types of digital signatures we offer, download the PDF on WAVE BL digital signature.

Yigal Elefant

CISO
WAVE BL reimagined an application of asymmetric encryption and digital signatures for members of the supply chain to conduct paper-based global trade transactions digitally.

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