What is military grade encryption and does your organization need it

For this reason, with military grade encryption, organizations can be confident that their data will remain safe from unauthorized access or tampering by external parties. In addition, AES makes it so that only authorized personnel can access the data in its original form.

Military-Grade Encryption Explained

The very concept of Encryption raises a lot of questions to a person who has never had much to do with cybersecurity. Naturally, when you hear the term “military-grade encryption”, it gets even more confusing. But if you’re familiar with encrypted services, you might have heard this term a lot, especially in the context of various VPN services.

  • What is military-grade encryption?
  • Has AES ever been cracked?
  • How long will the AES last?
  • Do you need military-grade security?
  • Military-grade or AES-256?

Some cybersecurity experts may call this phrase a marketing gimmick. Others may argue that it conveys difficult concepts in an easy-to-understand way. But what does military-grade encryption really mean?

What is military-grade encryption?

Military-grade encryption refers to AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 256-bit keys. In 2001, AES was announced as the new standard for information security by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a unit of the US Commerce Department.

Traditionally, military-grade encryption uses a key size equal to or greater than 128 bits. The US government specifies that AES-128 is used for secret (unclassified) information and AES-256 for top secret (classified) information. If an entity handles information on both levels, it usually adopts AES-256 as its standard.

To a person who is not particularly tech-savvy, these letters and numbers won’t mean much. In an attempt to bring encryption to the masses, security companies started to look for a term that describes the highest-level security with less jargon. As AES is used by the US government to secure classified information and by the NSA to protect national security data, the term “military-grade” seemed suitable.

Has AES ever been cracked?

The AES-256 block cipher hasn’t been cracked yet, but there have been various attempts against AES keys. The first key-recovery attack on full AES was published in 2011 by Andrey Bogdanov, Dmitry Khovratovich, and Christian Rechberger. They used the biclique attack, which is faster than a brute force attack by a factor of about four. However, it was a minor success. The 126-bit key is not widely used, as the lowest key in AES encryption contains 128 bits.

And it would still take billions of years to brute force the 126-bit key to crack it. That’s why this attempt doesn’t spell danger for information encrypted with the AES. There is no known practical attack that would allow someone to access AES-encrypted data if encryption is implemented correctly.

How long will the AES last?

According to NIST, no one can be sure how long the AES or any other cryptographic algorithm will remain secure. However, NIST’s Data Encryption Standard (known as DES) was a US government standard for approximately 20 years before it became hackable. The AES supports significantly larger key sizes than what DES supports. Barring any attacks against AES that are faster than key exhaustion, and even with future advances in technology, AES has the potential to remain secure well beyond 20 years.

Do you need military-grade security?

Many skeptics would say that you don’t need it as other encryption algorithms would do a good job too. However, no industry or service is immune to attacks. And services that store sensitive information, such as passwords or financial data, should not apply anything less than the recommended standard.

Back when the NIST presented this standard to the public in 2001, they already expected that the private sector would widely adopt it. They saw and still see it as a benefit to millions of consumers and businesses for protecting their sensitive information.

So yes, if you want to show that you care about your users and their personal data, you must use the best encryption there is.

Military-grade or AES-256?

It’s down to a personal choice. If you’re a tech-savvy person, you may prefer the proper technical terms. But translating complex technological ideas into everyday language can be challenging. Therefore, you sometimes need to use popular terms to illustrate your message, so it reaches the user. If the term “military-grade” helps to close the communication gap, there’s no harm in using it.

What is military grade encryption and does your organization need it?

Military grade encryption is a type of data security that uses advanced algorithms to protect confidential information. It usually involves encrypting sensitive data using high-level cryptographic tools and techniques. It enables users to encrypt their files and communications with an extremely high level of strength.

Military grade encryption often refers to a specific encryption type, AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Standard). Currently, the U.S. government has named this algorithm the standard for encryption and most cybersecurity organizations today use this form of military grade encryption. However, other types of encryption are also considered military grade.

Organizations may need military grade encryption depending on the privacy requirements required for their applications, data stored in databases or transmitted via networks, or other sensitive tasks where confidentiality is necessary. Data that has been encrypted using AES can take decades for even the most advanced computers to break into.

For this reason, with military grade encryption, organizations can be confident that their data will remain safe from unauthorized access or tampering by external parties. In addition, AES makes it so that only authorized personnel can access the data in its original form.

WinZip® Enterprise features a complete set of tools to manage and secure files with military-grade AES encryption, so you can be sure that the sensitive data within your organization is safe and secure. Military grade encryption is an essential component of WinZip Enterprise because it provides maximum security against malicious actors and attacks.

How does military encryption work?

Essentially, military grade encryption works by scrambling data into a mathematical algorithm and then encrypting it with a key. The key is generated using an advanced form of cryptography called public-key cryptography.

This cryptography utilizes two different keys to secure the data. The first key is kept private and known only to the sender and receiver. The other is publicly available so that anyone can send encrypted messages to them. The public key enables secure communication between two parties without revealing any sensitive personal information.

The complexity and sophistication of the encryption make these algorithms military grade. Put simply, these algorithms break down large amounts of data into smaller chunks and encrypt each piece separately.

Then, they combine them together so that it becomes nearly impossible for an outsider to decode without knowing the specific key used for encryption. Furthermore, many military grade encryption systems use additional layers of protection, such as:

  • Digital signatures
  • Passwords
  • Biometrics authentication
  • Token-based authentication systems

These extra security measures ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data stored within encrypted files or communications networks.

What is the FIPS 140-2 for military grade encryption?

In order to be able to store U.S. government sensitive data, stringent standards have been set for any technology used in cybersecurity that’s designed to store secure government data.

The Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 (FIPS 140-2) is a standard of cryptography that certifies algorithms as military grade. Entities working under the FIPS must comply with their standards in order to work with federal government organizations that store, collect, transfer, and share sensitive data.

Due to the robust level of protection under FIPS 140-2, many different industries opt to use this standard, including:

  • State governments
  • Local governments
  • Energy companies
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Transportation companies
  • Healthcare industries
  • Financial service sectors

The standard in place by the FIPS are essentially a group of guidelines endorsed by the government for organizations to adhere to when producing or purchasing tech products or services. There are several categories of FIPS standards, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Cryptographic modules
  • Key management systems
  • Mobile devices and voice security
  • Secure communication protocols
  • Authenticated access mechanisms, such as passwords
  • Biometric authentication systems
  • Secure message formats
  • Identity management systems
  • Digital signatures
  • Secure operating system environments
  • Internet protocol-based networking technologies, like virtual private networks (VPNs)
  • Secure electronic messaging systems
  • Wireless networks security protocols

Failing to comply with FIPS can have significant financial and reputational consequences for an organization. Depending on the severity of the offense and how long it has been since an entity broke the rules, organizations may also be subject to civil or criminal penalties. Additionally, government agencies may audit organizations that do not follow the regulations and be subject to fines.

What types of encryptions are considered military grade?

There’s a list of cryptographic protocols that are certified FIPS 140-2 and considered military grade. Some of these protocols include:

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
  • Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) algorithm
  • Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)
  • Triple-DES Encryption Algorithm (TDEA)
  • Secure Hash Standard (SHS)

The certified FIPS algorithms have strong security measures compared to commercial cryptography. This is due to their sophisticated mathematical structure, which makes them nearly impossible to break using cyber-attacks.

When is military grade encryption necessary?

Military grade encryption is hinged on the type of data that needs to be secured and how valuable that data is.

For example, any kind of communication between two parties (such as emails) should use military-grade encryption if there’s any chance that the contents contain sensitive data and information. This also includes everything from company documents or research studies to customer records and financial information.

Essentially, military grade encryption should be used whenever extremely valuable or confidential information needs protection from potential attackers. By utilizing advanced algorithms, encryption can effectively keep sensitive files safe and secure no matter what the circumstances.

How WinZip Enterprise offers military grade encryption

Learn how your organization can gain control of file security in any scenario with WinZip Enterprise. Featuring a complete set of tools to manage and secure files with military-grade AES encryption, WinZip Enterprise enables security-first companies and government agencies worldwide to share and control information across major business platforms.

WinZip Enterprise shares and stores files securely using an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) format, which is a FIPS 140-2 complaint algorithm. As part of the compliance process, WinZip Enterprise uses FIPS-enabled computers to ensure files are protected in transit and at rest.

Thanks to the most robust FIPS 140-2 encryption layer, WinZip Enterprise helps safeguard data and ensures that companies meet federal requirements for data protection and encryption.