128 Bit Vs 256 Bit SSL Encryption Algorithm Explained

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Comparing the Strength and Security of 128-bit and 256-bit Encryption

The primary difference between SSL 128 Bit vs 256 Bit encryption lies in the bit strength of the encryption keys. A higher bit strength signifies a more significant number of possible key combinations, enhancing the security of the encryption algorithm.

256-bit encryption provides a much higher level of security when compared to 128-bit encryption. The main distinction lies in the vast number of combinations each encryption key can possess. With a 256-bit encryption key, the possibilities are astonishing, totaling 2^256 potential combinations. In contrast, a 128-bit key has a comparatively smaller pool of combinations, amounting to 2^128 possibilities.

Are you planning to purchase a cheap SSL certificate but unsure about the encryption strength: 128 bit or 256 bit? If so, don’t worry; this article will explore 128 Bit vs 256 Bit SSL encryption algorithms in detail. We will also discuss key factors to consider when choosing the encryption level to meet your online security requirements.

What Exactly is Encryption Algorithm and How Does it Work?

Encryption Algorithm is a vital process that safeguards data integrity and confidentiality during transmission. It employs cryptographic algorithms to convert plain, understandable information into unreadable (cipher text), preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing it.

The SSL encryption process relies on a procedure called the SSL handshake, which establishes a secure communication channel. This procedure incorporates symmetric and asymmetric encryption algorithms.

Symmetric encryption employs a private key (single key) to encrypt and decode encrypted data. On the contrary, asymmetric encryption employs two mathematically related keys: public and private. It encrypts the data using the recipient’s public key. The receiver then use their private key to decode the data.

What is AES Encryption?

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a widely adopted cryptographic and encryption standard that Belgian cryptographers developed. This encryption standard supports encryption blocks of 128 bits, 192 bits, and 256 bits and outruns the previously used DES standard in terms of speed and efficient memory usage.

AES functions in symmetric key cryptography, where the sender and receiver utilize an identical encryption key. This simplifies the encryption and decryption procedures, providing notable advantages. AES excels in efficiency and ease of implementation, requiring less memory than the previous Data Encryption Standard (DES). As a result, it proves more practical for diverse applications.

What Does “Bit” Stand for in 128 and 256 Bit Encryption?

A bit is a basic unit of digital data represented by either a 0 or 1. Bits serve as the foundation for all digital communication and information storage since they are the fundamental units of digital data.

Encryption algorithms use different bit levels to determine the strength and complexity of the encryption. Bit signifies the count of binary digits (0s and 1s) present in the encryption key. A higher bit value indicates a longer key length, which enhances the encryption’s complexity and strengthens its resilience against potential cyber-attacks.

What is 128 Bit Encryption?

The 128-bit SSL encryption standard uses a cryptographic key length of 128 bits (maximum) to maintain and guarantee the integrity of online data transmission. Decrypting the encrypted data without the accompanying cryptographic key is very challenging since the 128-bit key length offers enormous potential possibilities.

128 bit encryption technique offers an exceptionally high level of security, making it incredibly challenging and time-consuming to break. To put it into perspective, attempting to crack the encryption key would involve exploring an astronomical number of combinations, specifically 2^128 possibilities. The chances of successfully finding the right combination is virtually impossible for the majority of advanced machines available today.

How Secure Is 128 Bit Encryption?

128-bit encryption is widely recognized as highly secure in modern cryptography. It provides a vast number of possible combinations, rendering it incredibly challenging and time-consuming for attackers to decipher the encrypted data. Breaking 128-bit encryption through brute force requires a vast computational power and impractical time (around 1.02 x 10^18 years).

It is crucial to acknowledge that as technology advances and computing power increases, the effectiveness of 128-bit encryption in providing robust security may diminish over time. To ensure strong and dependable security measures, staying updated with the latest encryption standards and considering implementing higher bit-lengths, such as 256-bit encryption, is advisable to enhance protection.

What is 256 Bit Encryption?

256-bit SSL encryption provides an even better level of protection. It uses a 256-bit key length (maximum), exponentially increasing the number of potential key combinations and considerably strengthening the encryption process.

It delivers increased security, making it perfect for applications that demand the highest level of data protection. This encryption method uses a longer key, making it resistant to brute-force assaults and other decoding attempts. Many organizations, particularly those dealing with sensitive data or working in industries with stringent security rules, use 256-bit SSL encryption to maintain maximum security.

How Secure Is 256 Bit Encryption?

To put the security of 256-bit encryption into perspective, let’s consider the time required to break it using current computational capabilities. Assuming an attacker can make 1 trillion (10^12) attempts per second, exhausting all possible key combinations would still take billions of years.

The estimated time required to break 256-bit encryption (3.31 x 10^56 years) exceeds current technology’s capabilities and surpasses the universe’s age (13.7 billion years). Therefore, 256-bit encryption is widely acknowledged as highly secure for safeguarding sensitive information.

Note:  While the encryption itself is robust, the overall security also depends on factors such as key management, implementation quality, and potential vulnerabilities in cryptographic algorithms or protocols. By adhering to best practices, regularly updating security measures, and employing robust encryption key management practices, the security of 256-bit encryption can be further enhanced.

Which is Better – 128-bit vs 256-bit Encryption?

To determine whether your website employs 128-bit or 256-bit encryption, you can inspect your SSL certificate. Simply click on the padlock icon displayed on your website and select “Certificate (Valid).” Proceed to the “Details” section and examine the “Signature Algorithm.” This specification indicates the key length utilized for encrypting your online communications. If you encounter “sha256RSA,” it signifies the usage of 256-bit encryption.

Comparison of 128 Bit and 256 Bit SSL Encryption

Strength and Security

128-bit and 256-bit SSL encryption algorithms are recognized for their robust security levels. However, the key distinction lies in the size of the encryption keys. 256-bit encryption employs a more significant key length, exponentially increasing the number of potential vital combinations and significantly enhancing the encryption process.

Consequently, 256-bit encryption offers more cryptographic strength, rendering it more resistant to decryption attempts. While 128-bit encryption remains secure for most applications, organizations dealing with highly sensitive data may find the additional protection provided by 256-bit encryption invaluable.

Performance and Speed

Performance and speed become crucial factors when considering the choice between 128-bit and 256-bit SSL encryption. The larger key size of 256-bit encryption necessitates more computational resources and may marginally increase processing time compared to 128-bit encryption. However, modern computing power has minimized the performance impact, making it negligible for most applications. In light of this, the extra security benefits offered by 256-bit encryption outweigh any minor performance differences.

Choosing the Right Encryption Level

For most cases, 128-bit SSL encryption provides adequate security and is compatible with various browsers and devices. However, when handling highly sensitive data or operating in industries with stringent security regulations, choosing the extra layer of protection offered by 256-bit SSL encryption ensures peace of mind and meets industry standards.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the article compares the security and encryption key strength of 128-bit and 256-bit encryption. While both encryption algorithms provide robust security, 256-bit encryption provides much higher security due to its significantly larger number of possible key combinations. With 2^256 possibilities, breaking the encryption is practically impossible with current technology. On the other hand, 128-bit encryption still offers strong security, although it may become less effective as computing power advances.

To put it simply, a 256-bit encryption key takes fourteen rounds of Advanced Encryption Standard for each data block, but a 128-bit key only requires ten rounds. This added complexity strengthens the 256-bit encryption algorithm’s security.

In terms of performance and speed, the larger key size of 256-bit encryption may marginally increase processing time compared to 128-bit encryption. Nevertheless, modern computing power has minimized the impact, making it negligible for most applications.

Selecting the appropriate encryption level depends on an application or organization’s specific requirements and security needs. While 128-bit SSL encryption is generally sufficient for most scenarios and enjoys broad support, opting for the added layer of security provided by 256-bit SSL encryption ensures peace of mind and compliance with industry standards, particularly in cases involving highly confidential data.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.