What is an Encryption Key

An Encryption key is used to perform encryption. Encryption is the process of transforming information into unreadable code with the help of cipher (a kind of algorithm) that any unauthorized user cannot understand. A key is basically a string of digits. Encryption key can act as a password when a user tries to connect to a wireless network. This key is then called WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) key which is just encryption key. It acts as a security measure and provides security for the network by allowing only authorized persons to connect. Decryption (which is opposite of encryption) uses a decryption key.

Encryption key can be of two types:

Symmetric keys: These keys are used for both the purposes i.e. encryption and decryption as well. Encryption using these keys is known as symmetric encryption or secret key encryption.

Asymmetric keys: These keys are used in asymmetric encryption. This type of encryption is also called public key encryption. It is more secure as a different key is used for both encryption as well as decryption.

There is a default encryption key printed on the router table if a user wants to connect to his or her, own network using router. This key might be WEP or WPA. This key is also used when a user wants to connect to someone else’s network, and is to be obtained from the owner of that network only. (This is only possible if the owner of that network has made his or her network encryption key protected). If the key is changed then the user need to enter into the router settings page to see that key. If the user doesn’t know the master password for the router settings page then the will have to set the router to default settings, so that the Encryption key will be changed back to defaults. If it is the user’s network, the key will be on the bottom of the router.

One of the major tasks that the organizations are facing is the management of these encryption keys. There is a process to manage these keys which is termed as Encryption Key Management. Encryption Key Management involves protecting, storing, backing up and organizing all the encryption keys of an organization. This is because a single organization can have thousands of encryption keys and each should be securely stored and protected and should be reliably retrieved.

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