Make no mistake, data encryption is one of the most successful methods of securing information. Effective data encryption can protect you or your business from confidential data falling into the wrong hands, so it’s important to get a better understanding of how the process works.
To encrypt information, one uses an algorithm to modify data into something meaningless, unreadable, and useless. To people familiar with data encryption, the algorithm is usually called a “cipher” and to decipher it, you would need something commonly referred to as a “key.” Without an understanding of both the cipher and key, an individual in possession of the encrypted data has no way of rearranging it back into its original form. Your data is secure and the potential criminal or hacker is out of luck.
Although there have been countless ciphers developed over the years, the U.S. government adopted a subset of what is called the Rijndael standard after a 5-year standardization process. Rijndael was developed and submitted by Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen, both Belgian cryptographers. This subset is now known as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). It was announced in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 197 (FIPS 197) by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). AES is composed of three ciphers: AES-128, AES-192 and AES-256 and became the official government standard in 2002. The U.S. government is so confident in these standards that in 2003 it deemed AES-192 and AES-256 sufficient to protect classified information up to the Top Secret level in even though the AES ciphers are publicly available.
The actual numbers associated with the AES ciphers (128, 192, and 256) refer to the size in bits of their corresponding keys. For example, AES-256 uses a 256-bit key. In theory, the resources needed to complete a brute force attack (an attempt to unlock encrypted data by trying every possible key, and one of the most basic ways to hack a cipher) increases exponentially with each increasing key size. So, even though a 256-bit key is only twice the size of a 128-bit key, breaking the 256-bit key by brute force would require 2^128 times more computational power (2^128 = 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456)! For a machine that can check 2^56 (72,057,594,037,927,936) different keys per second, it would take 50,955,671,114,250,100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years to complete a brute force attack! In other words, it would not make sense for anybody to even attempt cracking AES-256 encrypted data through a brute force attack.
This “military strength” data security is now available to consumers and businesses in the form of encrypted or secure USB flash drives. To protect data that could fall into the wrong hands, Aleratec has developed PortaStor Secure 256-bit AES Hardware Encrypted USB Flash Drives which utilize 256-bit AES disk encryption to encrypt data on the secure partition of the drive. These encrypted USB flash drives are essential for storing all kinds of sensitive information like credit card data, social security numbers, financial information, confidential client lists, employee data, top-secret business proposals, development plans, and more.
Customers can find Aleratec’s PortaStor Secure USB Flash Drives at leading resellers throughout North America and on Aleratec’s website at www.aleratec.com.