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INTRODUCTION

Turning meaningful words and numbers into coded language has been in use since pharaohs ruled over Egypt some 400 years ago. It is a simple way of making your data readable only by those you want to read it. "In the Wild West, in fact, Wells Fargo conducted much of its banking activities via telegraph, and the bank regularly coded messages like so: A simple phrase like, "We will pay $1,000 silver tomorrow," was relayed over telegraph lines as confusing jumble like, "Petrify Ambition Distaff Thorny."

With the huge growth of the Internet over the past few years the need for encryption has grown too. Everything from e-mail, online applications, online surveys can all be intercepted and read if the proper security means have to be met.

This paper will go over what encryption is, the different type of encryption and the different levels of encryption. It will also look at some examples of encryption programs free for the general public to download and use as well as the political export restrictions concerning encryption.

WHAT IS ENCRYPTION/DECRYPTION

Encryption is the conversion of data into a form, called a cipher, that cannot be easily intercepted by unauthorized people. Decryption is the process of converting encrypted data back into its original form, so it can be understood.

The use of encryption/decryption is as old as the art of communication. In wartime, a cipher, often incorrectly called a "code," can be employed to keep the enemy from obtaining the contents of transmissions. Simple ciphers include the substitution of letters for numbers or the rotation of letters in the alphabet. More complex ciphers work according to sophisticated computer algorithms that rearrange the data bits in digital signals.

In order to easily recover the contents of an encrypted signal, the correct decryption key is required. The key is an algorithm that "undoes" the work of the encryption algorithm. Alternatively, a computer can be used in an attempt to "break" the cipher. The more complex the encryption algorithm, the more difficult it becomes to eavesdrop on the communications without access to the key.

THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF ENCRYPTION

There are basically two different levels of encryption used when looking at online transactions. The most common encryption used online is 40 bit encryption. This is usually enough encryption to protect the common tasks done online. 128 bit encryption comes into play especially when a person wants to do there banking online. When you download a web browser, you can choose to download it with either level of encryption.

40 BIT ENCRYPTION

40-bit encryption, also called international-grade encryption, means there are 240 possible keys that could fit into the lock that holds your account information. That means there are many billions of possible keys. Your standard version of a web browser will usually come with

128 BIT ENCRYPTION

128-bit encryption, also called domestic-grade encryption, means there are 288 times as many key combinations than there are for 40-bit encryption. That means a computer would require exponentially more processing power than for 40-bit encryption to find the correct key. You have you have this level of encryption in your web browser to be able to do web banking. You can download a version of Netscape that has this level of security.

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ENCRYPTION

DES (DATA ENCRYPTION METHOD)

Data Encryption Standard (DES) is a widely-used method of data encryption using a private key that was judged so difficult to break by the U.S. government that it was restricted for exportation to other countries. There are 72 quadrillion or more possible encryption keys that can be used. For each given message, the key is chosen at random from among this enormous number of keys. Like other private key encryption methods, both the sender and the receiver must know and use the same private key.

DES is a product cipher that operates on 64-bit blocks of data, using a 56-bit key. For each given message, the key is chosen at random from among a enormous number of keys. Like other private key cryptographic methods, both the sender and the receiver must know and use the same private key.

RSA (RIVEST, SHAMIR, ADLEMAN)

RSA is an Internet encryption and authentication system that uses an algorithm developed in 1977 by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman. The RSA algorithm is the most commonly