Symmetric Algorithms

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Symmetric Algorithms:

A symmetric algorithm uses the same key for encrypting and decrypting data. Symmetric algorithms supply confidentiality by encrypting data or messages. Some previous and current symmetric key encryption algorithms include Data Encryption Standard (DES), Triple DES (3DES), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), International Data Encryption Algorithm (IDEA), Blowfish, and RC4.

Speed: The algorithms used with symmetric encryption are fast, so they have less interference with system performance and are particularly effective with encrypting large amounts of data.

Strength: Symmetric algorithms are hard to decode without the correct algorithm. Well-tested symmetric algorithms such as 3DES and AES are almost impossible to decipher without the correct key. There is a method of taking encrypted data and encrypting it a second or even third time. Some of the disadvantages of using symmetric keys:

  • Poor key distribution mechanism: There is no simplistic method to securely distribute a shared secret; thus wide-scale deployment of symmetric keys is difficult.
  • Single key: A single key or single shared secret. When a single key secret is compromised, the impact is extensive. Because there is a single key that can be shared with some or many, symmetric keys are not suited to provide integrity, authentication, or nonrepudiation.

Some of the characteristics of specific symmetric keys:

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