Blowfish encryption is a symmetric block cipher (a method that allows encrypting data in blocks) that can be used in place of Data Encryption Standard (DES) or International Data Encryption Algorithm (IDEA). It takes a key that varies in length from 32–448 bits. As such, it works for both domestic and exportable use.

Think of Blowfish as the passcode to your vault. You will need the Blowfish encryption algorithm to lock and unlock it.

Other interesting terms…

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The encryption was designed in 1993 by Bruce Schneier as a fast and free alternative to existing algorithms. It has since been considerably analyzed and is slowly getting considered a strong encryption algorithm. To date, Blowfish remains unpatented and license-free, allowing anyone to use it without worries.

Why Is Blowfish Categorized as a Symmetric Encryption Technique?

In cryptography, plaintext refers to any message people transmit. This message could be a medical test report, a firmware upgrade, or anything else that can be represented as a stream of bits. Encryption algorithms convert plaintext messages into ciphertext. Decryption, meanwhile, converts the ciphertext back into plaintext.

In general, encryption algorithms come in two types—symmetric and public key.

Symmetric algorithms like Blowfish use the same key for encryption and decryption. Like your password, you need to keep the key secret, except from the message’s recipient.

Public key encryption algorithms use two keys—one for encryption and another for decryption. You don’t have to keep the encryption key or “public key” secret. The decryption key or “private key” should, however, be kept safe from prying eyes. Simply put, the public key “locks” the message while the private key “unlocks” it. If you want to learn more about public and private keys, check out our article “Public Key and Private Key: How They Work and Differ.”

What Are the Uses of Encryption Algorithms Like Blowfish?

Encryption algorithms like Blowfish are useful for various kinds of data security, including:

  • With regard to data integrity, encryption assures you that the recipient received the same message you sent.
  • Encryption algorithms like Blowfish also provide authentication. They assure recipients that the message came from whom the sender says it came from.
  • Some encryption algorithms also provide nonrepudiation, a way to prove without a doubt that a particular sender was the origin of a message.
  • Finally, most encryption algorithms can assure data privacy. They prevent someone other than the intended recipients from reading a message.

Why Go for Security by Obscurity?

Many of today’s systems rely on obscurity to achieve security. But it doesn’t mean that all programmers use encryption.

In the past or maybe even till now, software manufacturers design systems to download unsigned or unencrypted firmware upgrades or store unencrypted user data. They justify this practice because updates are typically invisible to end-users. It is, however, no longer safe to do. One thing they can do is use public-domain encryption algorithms.

As the number of cyber attacks increases, so should the use of encryption algorithms like Blowfish. It’s important to protect our smartphones, which store personal data and contact lists, and even logs of our movements. Our cars that record our driving habits need security, too.

Encryption algorithms like Blowfish help keep private data confidential. They secure data transmission to prevent contact lists and personal emails from being read by someone else, keep firmware upgrades out of devices you don’t wish to update, and verify if information senders are who they say they are. Data privacy is now even mandated by law. In the U.S., for instance, electronic devices can’t exchange medical data without encrypting it first.

Most people believe encrypting data is computationally intensive and fraught with intellectual property concerns. While that may be true, some public domain encryption algorithms like Blowfish, which is robust and lightweight, are convenient for anyone’s use.

Now that you know the answer to “What is Blowfish encryption?” are you ready to use it to secure your personal data? Note that it is one of the most simple algorithms out in the market for individuals and organizations who want to keep their data secure and private.