Symmetric versus asymmetric encryption

The most widely used symmetric algorithm is AES-128, AES-192, and AES-256. The main disadvantage of the symmetric key encryption is that all parties involved have to exchange the key used to encrypt the data before they can decrypt it.

With asymmetric keys the server generates a pair of keys: public and private. The private key is kept safe but the public key can be sent in the clear to the client. The client can use the public key to encrypt a message that can only be decrypted with the private key. Also the private key cannot be derived from the public.

The Diffie-Hellman algorithm doesn’t share keys during the key exchange, you’re creating a key together. This key can then be used to encrypt subsequent communications using a symmetric key cipher.

To avoid these vulnerabilities, authors recommend use of elliptic curve cryptography, for which no similar attack is known. Failing that, they recommend that the order, p, of the Diffie–Hellman group should be at least 2048 bits. They estimate that the pre-computation required for a 2048-bit prime is 109 times more difficult than for 1024-bit primes.

Forward secrecy

Produce different keys for each session: cracking one session doesn’t mean you have access to any others.

Securing data as it passes through the Internet usually requires protecting it in two ways:

  1. Confidentiality: assuring no one except the intended recipients can read the data
  2. Integrity: assuring no one can modify or tamper the data in transit

Password hashing

OWASP - General hashing algorithms (eg, MD5, SHA-1/256/512) are not recommended for password storage. Instead an algorithm specifically designed for the purpose should be used.


RED is plaintext – unencrypted – BLACK is ciphertext. Can be applied to physical connections.


  • PBKDF2
  • bcrypt - an adaptive function: over time, the iteration count can be increased to make it slower, so it remains resistant to brute-force search attacks even with increasing computation power
  • scrypt
  • Kerckhoffs’s principle: A cryptosystem should be secure even if everything about the system, except the key, is public knowledge
  • wiki/TLS handshake
  • IPsec