What is a Symmetric Key?

What is a Symmetric Key?

Symmetric encryption allows only one key (a secret key) to encrypt and decrypt data. Both keys represent a common code/secret shared between the sender and the intended recipient/s to secure information.

Symmetric encryption is faster and uses fewer resources. The encrypted and plain text is the same in length. The length of the key used is 128 or 256 bits.

It is efficient to handle a large amount of data. For example, payment transactions, user validation, hashing, etc. However, the symmetric key is less secure because the secret key is shared between the sender and receiver and can be easily hacked.

Some examples of symmetric encryption algorithms include AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), DES (Data Encryption Standard), IDEA (International Data Encryption Algorithm), Blowfish (Drop-in replacement for DES or IDEA), RC4 (Rivest Cipher 4), RC5 (Rivest Cipher 5), RC6 (Rivest Cipher 6).

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