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Difference between Symmetric And Asymmetric Key Cryptography
Updated on 16th May, 23 279 Views

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The process of concealing or coding information so that only the intended recipient can read it is known as cryptography. Cryptography has been used to encode messages for thousands of years and is still used in bank cards, computer passwords, and e-commerce.

What is meant by the term “Cryptography”?

Cryptography is a method of storing and transmitting data in such a way that only those authorized to see and process it can do so. This is accomplished by employing advanced mathematical concepts. Encryption is a fundamental concept in cryptography; it is the process of encoding a message so that it cannot be deciphered by an eavesdropper. This method dates back to Caesar’s time when he encrypted his messages using Caesar’s cipher. If a user’s plain text is encrypted and transmitted over a communication channel, an eavesdropper cannot read it. Decryption takes place at the receiving end, restoring the plain text.

Terminologies used in Cryptography

Terminologies used in Cryptography


Encryption is the process of coding or locking up data or information using cryptography. The data that has been locked is said to be encrypted.


Decryption is the process of unlocking or decoding encrypted data/information using cryptographic techniques.


A password or string of characters used to encrypt and decrypt data is referred to as a key.

Different types of keys are used in cryptography. Only the sender and receiver are aware of the information. For example, symmetric-key cryptography uses secret keys for both encryption and decryption.

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Types of Cryptography

Unauthorized access to all types of data is a constant risk in today’s cyber world. Financial and payment system data are the most vulnerable because they can reveal consumers’ and clients’ personal identifying information (PII) or payment card records.

To secure personally identifiable information and mitigate threats, companies that conduct payment transactions every minute of the day must use encryption. As a result, cryptography is extremely important.

Cryptography is classified into two types: symmetric cryptography and asymmetric cryptography.

Types of Cryptography

Symmetric Cryptography

Symmetric Key Cryptography, also known as Symmetric Encryption, encrypts and decrypts data using a secret key. This is the inverse of Asymmetric Encryption, which uses a single key to encrypt and a different key to decrypt. During this phase, data is converted to a format that cannot be interpreted or inspected by anyone who does not have the secret key used to encrypt it.

The effectiveness of this method is determined by the strength of the random number generator used to generate the secret key. Symmetric Key Cryptography, which is widely used on the Internet today, is made up of two types of algorithms: block and stream.

Two popular encryption algorithms are the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and the Data Encryption Standard (DES)

  • This type of encryption is typically much faster than Asymmetric Encryption, but it allows access to the secret key by both the sender and the data receiver.
  • Symmetric cryptography is based on a single shared key that all parties know and can be used to encrypt and decrypt data.
  • Secret-key, single-key, shared-key, one-key, and private-key encryption are other terms for symmetric-key cryptography. When compared to the related language used in public-key cryptography, the last and first words will cause confusion.
  • Symmetric key encryption employs one of the following encryption techniques:
  1. Stream ciphers encrypt digits or letters in a message one at a time.
  2. Block ciphers encrypt a collection of bits as a single entity, inserting plaintext to make it a multiple of the block size. 64-bit blocks are widely used. Both the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm and the GCM block cipher mode of operation use 128-bit blocks.

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What is the purpose of Symmetric Encryption?

Despite its age, symmetric encryption is simpler and more effective than asymmetric encryption, which causes network strain due to data size performance issues and high CPU usage.

Symmetric encryption is commonly used for large-scale data encryption, such as database encryption because it is smoother and faster than asymmetric encryption. The secret key of a database can only be used by the database to encrypt or decrypt data.

Here are some examples of symmetric cryptography applications:

  • Payment applications containing personally identifiable information (PII), such as bank purchases, must be secured to prevent identity theft or fraudulent charges.
  • Validations are performed to ensure that the message’s sender is who he claims to be.
  • Hashing or random number generation

Asymmetric Cryptography

  • Asymmetric Cryptography, also known as public-key cryptography, uses two similar keys to encrypt and decrypt a message. In asymmetric key cryptography, the private key is protected by one public key and one private key to prevent unauthorized access or use. Anyone with a public key can encrypt a document so that only the intended recipient can decrypt it with their private key. A private key, also known as a secret key, is only known to the generator of the key.
  • When someone tries to send an encrypted message, a shared directory is used to retrieve the recipient’s public key and encrypt the message until it is sent. The message will then be decrypted by the receiver using their associated private key.
  • When a message is encrypted with the sender’s private key, it can only be decrypted with the sender’s public key, thereby authenticating the sender. These encryption and decryption procedures are automatic; users do not need to lock and unlock the message manually.
  • Many protocols, including the transport layer security (TLS) and safe sockets layer (SSL) protocols that enable HTTPS, use asymmetric cryptography. Encryption is commonly used in browsers when establishing a stable connection over an unstable network, such as the Internet, or when validating a digital signature.
  • The main advantage of asymmetric cryptography is increased data security. Because users are never expected to reveal or exchange their private keys, the risks of cyber activity on a user’s private key during transmission are significantly reduced.

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What is the purpose of Asymmetric Encryption?

 Asymmetric cryptography is frequently used in digital signature validation. A digital signature is a cryptographic technique for validating and trusting a message, piece of software, or digital record. It functions similarly to a handwritten signature or a sealed seal.

Evidence of the origin, identification, and status of an electronic record, transaction, or post, as well as acknowledgment of the signer’s informed consent, may be included in asymmetric cryptographic digital signatures.

Asymmetric encryption can also be used in applications where multiple users can simultaneously encrypt and decrypt messages, such as:

  • Asymmetric encryption is frequently used in SSL/TLS cryptographic protocols, which provide encrypted connections between websites and browsers.
  • Encrypted email requires the use of a public key to encrypt a file and a private key to decrypt it.
  • Asymmetric encryption is frequently used in SSL/TLS cryptographic protocols, which provide encrypted connections between websites and browsers.
  • Asymmetric encryption is used for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies when consumers provide public keys that everyone will use and private keys that will be kept secret. To ensure that only funds belonging to legitimate owners can be spent, Bitcoin employs a cryptographic algorithm.

Difference between Symmetric and Asymmetric key cryptography

So, when it comes to the distinction between symmetric and asymmetric encryption, which is more secure? Asymmetric encryption is slower than symmetric encryption, but it is more stable. They’re both effective in their own ways, and depending on the task, one or both of them can be used separately or together.

The table below compares symmetric and asymmetric encryption in greater detail. Some of these differences can be attributed to the various types of keys used, while others can be attributed to the time required to compute the encryption methods.

Symmetric EncryptionAsymmetric Encryption
Private key cryptography or secret-key cryptography are other names for it.Asymmetric key cryptography, also known as conventional cryptography or public-key cryptography, is a type of cryptography.
Key lengths are typically 128 or 256 bits, depending on the security criteria.The key length is even longer; the recommended RSA key size for asymmetric encryption is 2048 bits or greater.
The encryption method can be completed quickly because it is a simple procedure.It is a much more difficult and time-consuming mechanism than symmetric key encryption.
The mysterious key has been revealed. As a result, the likelihood of compromise rises.Because the private key is not shared, the overall process is more reliable than symmetric encryption.

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Advantages of Symmetric Cryptography

Advantages of Symmetric Cryptography
  • Symmetric cryptosystems are faster.
  • Encrypted data can be transmitted over a network in Symmetric Cryptosystems even if it is certain that the data will be intercepted. Because no key is sent with the files, data decryption is impossible.
  • To confirm the receiver’s existence, a symmetric cryptosystem employs password authentication.
  • A message can only be decrypted by a device that has a hidden key.
  • Prevents widespread message security breaches. For communication with each party, a separate secret key is used. Only communications from a specific pair of sender and recipient are affected when a key is corrupted. Communication with others is always safe.
  • This type of encryption is simple to implement. To begin encrypting and decrypting messages, users only need to specify and exchange the secret key.
  • Your files can be encrypted and decrypted. There is no need to create separate keys if you use encryption for messages or data that you only want to access once. For this, single-key encryption is ideal.
  • Asymmetric key encryption takes much longer than symmetric key encryption.
  • It uses fewer computer resources. Single-key encryption requires fewer computing resources than public-key encryption.

Disadvantages of Symmetric Cryptography

  • It is not possible to create digital signatures that cannot be revoked.
  • The message’s origin and validity cannot be guaranteed. Messages cannot be proven to have originated from a specific person because both the sender and the recipient use the same key. If there is disagreement, this could be a problem.
  • Each party must generate a new shared key in order to communicate. This makes it difficult to handle and secure both of these keys.

Advantages of Asymmetric Cryptography

Advantages of Asymmetric Cryptography
  • There is no need to exchange keys in asymmetric or public key cryptography, which eliminates the key distribution problem.
  • The primary benefit of public-key cryptography is that private keys are never exchanged or disclosed to others.
  • Digital signatures with revocation capabilities may be provided.
  • Message verification is provided by public-key cryptography, which requires the use of digital signatures, allowing the message’s recipient to confirm that the message is indeed from a specific sender.
  • The use of digital signatures in public-key cryptography allows the recipient to determine whether or not the message was altered during transit. A digitally signed message cannot be altered without rendering the signature invalid.

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Disadvantages of Asymmetric Cryptography

  • The slowness of using public-key cryptography for encryption is one disadvantage. Popular secret-key encryption systems are much faster than any widely used public-key encryption technique.
  • Public key authentication is strongly recommended/required. Because no one can be certain that a public key corresponds to the person it is supposed to identify, everyone must confirm that their public keys are theirs.
  • It consumes more computer resources. It necessitates far more computing resources than single-key encryption.
  • A widespread security breach is likely if an intruder obtains a person’s private key and reads his or her entire message.
  • The loss of a private key can be irreversible. When a private key is compromised, all incoming messages become unreadable.


Indeed, new algorithms are being developed to keep up with eavesdroppers and secure knowledge in order to improve secrecy. In the coming years, hackers will undoubtedly make life difficult for experts, but the cryptographic world will continue to evolve!

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