POST - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Data Encryption

Published Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This briefing provides an overview of how encryption works and how it is used.

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Encryption is the process of converting information into a form that is intelligible only to someone who knows how to ‘decrypt’ it to obtain the original information. It is commonly used in connection with electronic data, whether stored on a computer or transmitted over an unsecured network such as the Internet.

This POSTbrief discusses what factors affect the reliability of encryption, and the challenges associated with ‘breaking’ encryption. It updates the technical background in POSTnote 270 on data encryption.

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.