We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Secret Key Cryptography?

By Richard Horgan
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The art of cryptography, or communicating in code, can be divided into three broad categories: public key cryptography, which is a code that uses one key for encryption and a separate key for decryption; hash functions, which rely on mathematical conversions to permanently encrypt the information; and secret key cryptography, which is a code that uses the same key for both the encryption and decryption of the transmitted data. The last category derives its name from the fact that both the sender and receiver must keep their key a secret in order to prevent messages from being successfully intercepted by a third party.

Secret key cryptography, also known as symmetric encryption, can be separated into two main types, based on the type of coding scheme used. Stream ciphers, for example, allow the sender and receiver to constantly update and change the secret key; block ciphers, on the other hand, consistently encode one block of data at a time. Furthermore, self-synchronizing stream ciphers feed off the previous volume of data, as opposed to synchronous stream ciphers, which work off a key that is independent of the volume and progression of the message.

There are four major modes of secret key cryptography block cipher operation. Electronic Codebook mode (ECB) corresponds to the basest level of encryption; Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) incorporates a sender-receiver feedback layer into the ECB equation; Cipher Feedback (CFB) allows data to be encrypted at a much smaller character level; and Output Feedback (OFB) employs an even more complex, independent coding algorithm to prevent two blocks of data from being coded in the same, identical way.

All in all, secret key cryptography is a mathematician's paradise, able to be made more complex by both the intricacies of the governing algorithm and the frequency with which that algorithm, or key, is changed. One everyday application that makes use of secret key cryptography is the ongoing transmission of paid television content to a cable or satellite subscriber. As the piracy of these signals has increased, so too have the efforts of cable and satellite companies to constantly update and download new de-scrambling keys to the smart cards inside each receiver.

A complex form of secret key cryptography was used to protect the Cold War Era phone line that directly linked the White House and the Kremlin. Known as a One-Time Pad (OTP), it generated a very large set of random numbers to be used only once as the decoding key. This type of encryption is said to be impossible to break when used properly.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.