Symmetric encryption, also called conventional encryption, has been a mainstay in data transmission for many years. This method of message scrambling involves the use of a shared secret key which all parties in the data exchange must possess in order to decipher a message. Although asymmetric encryption has gained popularity in the Internet age, symmetric encryption offers some attractive advantages.
Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption
Asymmetric encryption uses a private key that is only known by the owner, and a public key that is available to everyone who wishes to communicate with the owner. Symmetric encryption uses one private key that each person in the exchange circle must know in order to encrypt and decrypt messages.
Symmetric encryption is much faster than asymmetric encryption due to the shorter key lengths required for the proper security level. Asymmetric encryption needs longer key lengths to achieve the same security level, causing the encryption time to increase. In addition, asymmetric encryption produces longer encrypted messages, which take longer to transmit and decrypt.
The symmetric encryption process is simple and uses standard encryption algorithms that are available to anyone. Each person knows the keys beforehand, as well as the algorithms used, and the encryption and decryption processes are easy to implement.
Symmetric encryption provides excellent security at a lower hardware cost due to its simplicity. The algorithms are fairly simple and require less computing power to perform message encryption. Asymmetric encryption, on the other hand, uses complex algorithms which require much more computing power, resulting in higher hardware costs.