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How Strong is 256-bit Encryption?

Cyber-criminals are always hunting for broken links in websites, security lapses in software codes or scripts, and loopholes in-network to penetrate and fulfill their evil desires. In this digital world, data security is of utmost importance, and hence business owners always prefer encryption security for the protection of their sensitive information to secure their digital business.

What Is AES 256-Bit Encryption?

AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 256-Bit Encryption defines the encryption key’s length used to encrypt the data. It indicates that if a hacker wants to decrypt data encrypted with 256-bit encryption, they need 256 different amalgamations to crack the data.

This is practically impossible to crack, and even the world’s supercomputers may require many years to get the combination by trying the trial-error method.

All the data communicated between browsers and websites are encrypted with 256-bit encryption. Even extremely sensitive financial data of government, military, or any other special departments, prefer AES-256-bit encryption methods rather than AES-128 or AES-192 block ciphers. All modern algorithms, security protocols, AES, and SSL, use 256-bit encryption security, as they find it extremely secured.

Though encryption is a too complex subject, the endpoint is that it jumbles the data and converts it into a non-readable coded format, which is difficult to decode or decipher.

More About Encryption

In cryptography, encryption is all about transforming data into an encrypted text by using algorithm functions. Here encrypted data is called ciphertext, whereas decrypted information is called plain text. Cryptographic keys help in the encryption-decryption process.

Example: A confidential message is encrypted by the sender using a key and decrypted by the receiver using another key.

There are 2 types of encryption:

  • Symmetric Encryption
  • Asymmetric Encryption

Modern cryptography works on Asymmetric Encryption technology.

About Symmetric Encryption

In Symmetric Encryption, the encryption-decryption process takes place using just one key, i.e., only one key is used for encryption of data, and the same key decrypts the data as well.


About Asymmetric Encryption

Asymmetric Encryption or Public-key Cryptography uses cryptographic keys to protect data. These two keys are utilized in the encryption-decryption process. They are the Public Key & the Private Key pairs.


The public key is used to encrypt data, and the private key is used for decryption of data. Though these keys are separate, they are mathematically connected.

How are the Keys produced?

Cryptographic algorithms use mathematical functions to generate a key pair. Here, the main point is that both the keys are created simultaneously, using an algorithm, and hence they are related to each other.

How does Asymmetric Encryption Work?

The below image is a perfect example of the functioning of Asymmetric Encryption.

Public Key Cryptography

Example: In the above image, John is trying to send secret messages to Emma, by sending the text in an encrypted format. He already has two keys (private key and public key) with him. With the help of Public Key, he encrypted the text and sent it to Emma with the Private Key. Emma will decrypt the text with the Private Key sent by John and read the message.

The public key can be shared with many people, but the private key needs to be shared with the recipient only.

Since Asymmetric keys are larger than Symmetric keys, data that is why encrypted with asymmetric keys is more robust, and hence decoding this data is an arduous task.

Public-Key Cryptography is used in SSL/TLS, Bitcoin, and Authentications, etc. This modern encryption method is an impenetrable method of communication.

How is Asymmetric Encryption Involved in SSL/TLS certificates?

All SSL/TLS certificates provide 256-Bit Encryption Security and work on both encryption methods stated above. Symmetric encryption is a quick process, whereas Asymmetric Encryption takes some more time.

When you visit any secured HTTPS site, your browser promptly creates asymmetric encryption with that website. Your web browser obtains the SSL certificate’s public key installed on the website.

It is this public key that encrypts the information sent to the website. The same will be decrypted with the private key. Never share the private key with anyone and store it in a secured location, accessed by authorized personnel only.

Common Uses of 256 Bit Encryption

256-Bit encryption is the industry-standard encryption, and hence there are multiple uses for the same.

  • Generation of symmetric session keys by browsers for starting a secure SSL/TLS connection
  • Encryption of data-in-transit between a browser and a server
  • Encryption of storage of data in an email when an email signing certificate is used
  • Encryption of stored data on third-party cloud platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, AWS, etc.
  • Encryption of sensitive data owned by the government and defences.

How 256 Bit SSL Encryption Works?

Unlike humans, computers do not store data in the form of alphabets; they store data in binary forms of 1’s and 0’s. This encoded language (raw form) is read by the computers, which further gets encrypted. This encryption used in SSL/TLS certificates.

Various file formats use different SSL Certificates, and hence encoding styles differ.


  • While accessing a website, the user’s browser chooses the encryption algorithm between itself and the webserver to create a random session key. The session key is made from 256-bit encryption strength. This key is used to encode and decode the data.
  • The public key of the SSL certificate installed on the website encrypts the session key and is later sent to the webserver.
  • The server already has the private key for decrypting the session key.
  • After the server decrypts the session key, a secured connection is established between the browser and the server.
  • All the data communicated between browser and server is later encrypted and decrypted using a single session key, as session keys are symmetric. When the session expires, the key also expires.

Is 256-Bit Encryption Secure?

256-bit encryption is the key length, which is used for encrypting data. You can make any combinations of two, from the power of 256, i.e., 2256 different combinations. With uncountable combinations, it is almost impossible to calculate the key combination.

Even brute forces take years to penetrate through 256-bit encryption security. Hence 256-bit encryption is the most reliable encryption technique to date.

Organizations with sensitive data opt for 256-bit encryption security for data integrity.

This confirms the reliability and strength of 256-bit encryption.

Wrapping Up:

Sometimes the security level of 256-bit encryption maybe only up to 128-bit encryption. Sometimes key size and security levels are interlinked, which may cause this issue.

Still, a hacker may never be able to crack the 256-bit symmetric key, because, in the time taken to break the same, the key may either have been discarded or the SSL certificate which generated the key may be replaced. So, in a nutshell, 256-bit encryption is strong and secure, thus protecting your digital world from cyber-criminals’ outrage.

About the Author

Nikita Gupta

Nikita Gupta is a seasoned professional with a master's degree in Computer Applications. She brings over 10 years of profound experience to the realm of technology. Her exceptional expertise spans software security, data security, and mastery in SSL/TLS. When it comes to cutting-edge solutions for securing digital assets, Nikita is a dedicated pro.