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Last Updated: Jul 17, 2024

Difference between symmetric and asymmetric Key encryption

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People often don't understand the difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption and get confused. Are you also the one? You are in the right place. 

This blog will not directly go through the theoretical difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption, but we will first learn about encryption. Furthermore, we will discuss what symmetric and asymmetric encryption is. Then, we will finally understand the differences between symmetric and asymmetric encryption.

After reading this blog, You will know everything about encryption with its types and differences. Knowing encryption will help you move to the cloud as it securely enables cloud multi-tenancy.

So, won't you want to know how your sensitive information gets transferred over the network? How does it get secured?

Let's dive into the topic now to know more in detail.


The data/message sent by the sender is converted to another form that is not readable, also known as unintelligible data, and then sent over the network. This process is called encryption. Hence, it is responsible for securing the information we send, receive, or store. Data can be logs stored on our fitness watch, text messages, images saved on our mobile phone, and banking details sent by our online account.

The ordinary text can be a message or email, which then transforms into "ciphertext," an unreadable type of format. This format is converted back to the original form once received and accessed by the recipient. This process is known as decryption. Similarly, all our digital information/data is spread through a network like the internet.

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Symmetric Encryption

We use a single password or a single key to encrypt and decrypt digital information in symmetric encryption. Here, the message is encrypted by a key, which decrypts. Hence, it makes this process accessible and easy to use but less secure.

We call it symmetric as this process uses a single key for performing both encrypting and decrypting operations. This means the key we use to convert the message into ciphertext is also used to convert it into the original message from the ciphertext. Symmetric encryption is also called secret key encryption. Because the symmetric encryption process is faster and less complicated, it is ideal for sending data in bulk.

Asymmetric Encryption

We use two different types of keys for encryption and decryption purposes in this type of encryption. It is based on the public and private key approaches. A public key is a key shared/exchanged among users, but a private key is not exchanged and used for decrypting data. Asymmetric encryption type is slower than symmetric encryption but more secure. The public key utilized in this encryption approach is open to the world, but the private key is kept confidential.

The demerit of this type of encryption is that it is more time-consuming than symmetric encryption. Because secret-key encryption uses a single shared key to encrypt and decrypt the information, asymmetric encryption is slower than secret-key encryption. Two separate keys are utilized in public-key encryption, each linked by a sophisticated mathematical process. As a result, we can argue that public-key encryption takes longer to encrypt and decrypt.

If a public key encrypts the message, it should be decrypted by the private key, and if encrypted by the private key, it should be decrypted by the public key. The application of this encryption is in communication channels that we use in day to day life.

So, this is the full description of encryption. Both types of encryptions have some merits and demerits. But for security purposes, asymmetric encryption is used.

Difference Between Symmetric Encryption And Asymmetric Encryption


Symmetric Encryption 

Asymmetric Encryption 

We use only one key for encryption and decryption.We use two different keys for encryption and decryption: public and private keys.
Ciphertext's size would be smaller or equal to plain text size.Ciphertext's size would be larger or equal to plain text size.
This is efficient as recommended to transfer a large amount of data.This is inefficient as it can't transfer a large amount of data.
This technique is faster as it uses only one key.This technique is slower as it uses only two different keys. Through a sophisticated mathematical process, both keys are linked to each other.
Symmetric encryption is mainly used to send large amounts of data.It's mostly for smaller transactions. It's used to create a secure connection channel before actually exchanging data.
As only one key is used, it is less secure.Here we use two keys for encryption and decryption, which are more secure.
The algorithms used in symmetric encryption are 3DES,  DES, AES, and RC4.The algorithms used in asymmetric encryption are RSA, Diffie-Hellman, ECC, DSA, Gamal, and EI.
It is an old technique.It is a new technique.
It merely ensures your privacy.It ensures privacy, authenticity, and non-repudiation.
When compared to asymmetric key encryption, symmetric key encryption uses fewer resources.Resource usage is high in asymmetric key encryption.



1. What are the advantages of encryption?

Ans: Encryption's primary goal is to safeguard digital data privacy on computers or communicate over the internet or any other computer network.

In addition to security, the necessity to comply with legislation is often a driving force behind encryption adoption. Several organizations and standards bodies suggest or enforce encryption to prevent unwanted third parties or unauthorized hackers from accessing sensitive data.

2. What are the disadvantages of encryption?

Ans: While encryption is intended to prevent unauthorized entities from understanding the data they have obtained, it can also control their owner from accessing it in specific circumstances.

3. What are encryption backdoors?

Ans: A backdoor for encryption is a means to bypass a system's authentication or encryption. Governments and law enforcement officials worldwide, particularly those in the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance, continue to push for encryption backdoors, claiming that they are necessary for national security and safety as criminals and terrorists increasingly communicate through encrypted online services.

4. In which order of the letters in a message is rearranged in encryption?

Ans: The order of letters in a plaintext message is shuffled using a pre-defined mechanism in transposition ciphers. Rail fence cipher and Columnar transposition are two examples of such ciphers.

5. What is a data encryption standard (DES)?

Ans: DES is a symmetric-key block cipher that uses a 64-bit block size and a 64-bit key size. It is vulnerable to attacks; hence it isn't widely used.

Key Takeaways

In this article we have extensively discussed the difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption. We discussed about encryption and then looked into its types of symmetric and asymmetric encryption.

We hope that this blog has helped you enhance your knowledge regarding encryption and if you would like to learn more, check out our articles on RSA algorithm and Caesar Cipher

Recommended Readings:

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