5 Key Elements of a Successful End-to-End Encryption Strategy

To secure your organization’s communications and collaborations, you need to embrace an end-to-end encryption strategy. End-to-end encryption protects all data in transit, so that all text, voice, and video communications stay secure.

Not all end-to-end encryption is created equal, however. Read on to learn more about the key elements of a successful end-to-end encryption strategy.

How End-to-End Encryption Works

End-to-end (E2E) encryption is designed to thwart unauthorized parties from accessing data and communications while they are being transmitted from one user or system to another. E2E encryption itself encrypts or scrambles data at the source and keeps it encrypted while it is transmitted. It is only decrypted when it is received at the other end. This ensures that any data or communications intercepted in transit cannot be deciphered and thus is rendered unusable if intercepted by third parties.

Key Elements of an End-to-End Encryption Strategy

According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2021 Global Encryption Trends Study, only half of all organizations had an overall encryption strategy that they applied consistently to their data and communications. When you’re developing your organization’s encryption strategy, pay particular attention to the end-to-end encryption solution you use for your communications and collaboration. A robust E2E encryption solution needs to include five essential elements: asymmetric encryption, complex cryptography, perfect forward secrecy, ephemeral messaging, and user key verification.

1. Asymmetric Encryption

Encryption can be either symmetric or asymmetric. Asymmetric encryption, also known as public key encryption, is more secure than symmetric encryption, and is thus the better choice for end-to-end encryption.

Symmetric encryption uses a single cryptographic key – a string of random numbers, letters, and special characters – to both encrypt and decrypt data. Both the sender and the recipient have access to this single public key.

Asymmetric encryption, in contrast, uses separate keys to encrypt and decrypt. With asymmetric encryption, the sender’s system uses a public key to encrypt the communication, while the recipient’s system uses a private key to decrypt it. Even if an unauthorized users gains access to the communication, they can’t access the communication without the recipient’s private key. For this reason, the most secure end-to-end encryption solutions, such as Wickr, use asymmetric encryption.

2. Perfect Forward Secrecy

Any encryption scheme can be compromised if encryption keys are reused. A symmetric encryption solution that relies on a single master key is inherently dangerous. Any third party coming into possession of that single key could decrypt all of your organization’s communications, past, present, and future.

The better solution is asymmetric encryption with what is called perfect forward secrecy. This approach creates a new key for each new communication or piece of data. Every text message, voice call, video conference, or shared file is assigned its own random encryption key before it is sent. Even if an adversary were to obtain the key for one message, all other communications and files would still be protected.

3. Key Verification

Another essential element of a robust E2E strategy is key verification. This technology verifies the identity of the person using the keys on the other side of the conversation, to ensure that you’re communicating with who you think you’re communicating with.

Wickr’s key verification process works by issuing both users their own unique verification codes. Either user can verify the other person’s identity by automatically comparing verification codes. If the codes don’t match, don’t initiate communications.

4. Complex Cryptography

The more complex the encryption, the more secure it is. Encryption complexity is measured in bits, and a more complex encryption algorithm – one with more bits – requires more resources for an adversary to break. At some point, the encryption is simply too complex to be broken.

Some cryptography solutions today use 128-bit encryption. This is not as secure as more advanced 256-bit encryption. Data encrypted with the AES-256 standard, used by Wickr, requires roughly 2^256 calculations to crack – which would take literally trillions of years.

5. Ephemeral Messaging

The final essential element of a secure end-to-end encryption strategy is ephemeral messaging. This technology ensures that past communications are deleted before they can be accessed by unauthorized users.

Even when communications are secured with E2E encryption, if messages are stored on either end of a communication, those messages can be breached by malicious actors. The only protection against unauthorized post-communications access is to delete all messages after they’ve been received.

This is what ephemeral messaging does. Wickr can automatically delete files and messages of all types a set amount of time after they’ve been sent or received. The messages are digitally shredded and replaced with random bits of code, so they cannot be restored even if stolen.

Turn to Wickr for Secure End-to-End Encryption

When your organization wants to adopt a successful end-to-end encryption strategy, turn to the security experts at Wickr. Our secure communications and collaboration platform enhances end-to-end encryption with a variety of military-grade security technologies, including ephemeral messaging, to protect all of your organization’s text, voice, and video communications, as well as shared files.

Contact us today to learn more about secure end-to-end encryption.