When researching some of the different encryption protocols, you may come across Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256. It’s become one of the most popular solutions for protecting and securing data from unauthorized access. Like all encryption protocols, AES 256 uses cryptographic keys to scramble data. AES 256, however, is considered more secure than other AES 128, AES 192 and many other encryption protocols. For a better understanding of AES 256 encryption and how it works, keep reading.

Overview of AES 256 Encryption

AES 256 refers to the 256- bit encryption protocol of the AES family. AES is a family of encryption protocols. It was pioneered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the early 2000s. Since then, AES has been adopted by commercial businesses, consumers and even government entities, including the U.S. federal government.

There are several AES encryption protocols, each of which has supports a different length for its cryptographic key. The length of the cryptographic key is measured in bits. AES 128, for example, uses a 128-bit cryptographic key, whereas AES 192 uses a 192-bit cryptographic key. AES 256, as you may have guessed, uses a 256-bit cryptographic key.

Benefits of AES 256 Encryption

When compared to other encryption protocols, AES 256 offers a superior level of security for data. In fact, it’s considered one of the strongest encryption protocols available. Technically speaking, no form of encryption is completely foolproof. The level of security offered by a given encryption protocol is dependent upon its cryptographic key. If a hacker can breach the cryptographic key, he or she will be able to read the decrypt the data, thereby exposing the data.

Protocols with a short cryptographic key, however, are easier to breach than those with a long cryptographic key. With AES 128, there are roughly 3.4 x 1038 different combinations by which the cryptographic key can be deciphered. With AES 256, on the other hand, the number increases to 1.1 x 1077. As a result, AES 256 makes is considered far more secure.

The downside to AES 256 encryption is that it requires more resources to process than AES 128 and AES 192. Computers, as well as servers, will consume more Central Processing Unit (CPU) power to execute the cryptographic key. Each time you decrypt the data, for instance, resources will be consumed. While AES 256 consumes more resources than other AES 128 and AES 192, though, most experts will agree that it’s a small price to pay for its added security benefits. AES 256 is one of the most secure encryption protocols available because it uses a 256-bit cryptographic key.

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