You must have heard about end-to-end encryption. Especially when you use messaging or email service, it is used a lot in terms of security. But do you know what is end-to-end encryption and how it strengthens communication security?
These days ‘end-to-end encryption is a popular term used by many big tech companies. You may also have noticed that big tech companies like Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft use this ‘end-to-end encryption’ in their apps or services. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘E2EE’. this is a system of communication, where only the sender and the receiver can read the message.
Understand what is ‘E2EE’
Encryption is a process of using algorithms to convert regular text characters into an unreadable format. This process uses encryption keys to convert the data into an unreadable format so that only authorized users can read the message. End-to-end encryption also uses the same process, but it is a step forward process of securing communication/messages from one endpoint to another. End-to-end encryption prevents third parties from accessing data when transferred from one user’s device or another device.
How E2EE Works
The end-to-end encryption process begins with cryptography, which is the method of protecting messages by converting information into an unreadable format called ciphertext. Only users with secret keys can decrypt the message in plaintext. In E2EE only the receiver or sender can decrypt it. Hackers or other third parties also cannot access the encrypted data on the server. Seen this way, it makes the data extremely secure. E2EE provides the gold standard for the security of communication. However, in end-to-end encryption, the encryption also happens at the device level. Meaning that messages and files are encrypted before being sent from the phone/computer. It is also considered secure because hackers cannot access the data on the server, as they do not have the private keys to decrypt the data. Secret keys are stored with individual users on their devices, making it very difficult to access an individual’s data.
In end-to-end encryption, security is enabled with a public-private key pair. This process is known as asymmetric cryptography. Asymmetric or public-key cryptography encrypts and decrypts data using two different cryptographic keys. In this, the message can only be decrypted using the associated private key, also known as the decryption key. In end-to-end encryption, public and private cryptographic keys are created for each person joining the system.
How E2EE differs from other encryption
Unlike other systems, end-to-end encryption offers to encrypt and decrypt messages only at the endpoint, which is on the devices of the sender and receiver. The use of single-key/secret-key encryption provides an unbreakable layer of encryption to the sender and recipient, but it uses only one key to encrypt the message. E2EE also ensures that the message is safe from hackers. Since e2EE messages cannot be read on any server, providers like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Meta, etc. will not be able to see or read your data. This is what makes end-to-end encryption different from any other type of encryption
What does E2EE protect?
Messages sent with e2EE can only be read by the receiver, who has the key to decrypt the message. This means that no one else can read the message even on the server, as he does not have the private key to decrypt the data. Only the recipient can read the message. In this way end-to-end encrypted messages also avoid tampering. Although E2EE protects the actual message, the metadata such as date, time, etc. are not encrypted. E2EE only protects data between endpoints. This means that the endpoints themselves are vulnerable to attack. In this case, the data can be misused.