The term ‘Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS)’ can be dated back to the early 90s and has been in use since 2004. Even though it has been around for around 3 decades now, it has been put to use widely only recently. Even today a lot of large organizations that should be using Perfect Forward Secrecy don’t do it.
So, before we get into ‘What is Perfect Forward Secrecy?’, let’s understand ‘Why do we need it?’.
Why do we need Perfect Forward Secrecy?
Encryption is a technique that we have been relying upon for a long time. Over the time, the encryption standards have evolved to becoming virtually impossible to break.
“Data Encrypted with AES-256 Bit Standard requires over a billion years to crack with current technical capability.”
Encryption is being widely used for sending, receiving, and storing the information; in Emails, Cloud Storage, Antivirus Software, Password Managers, and everywhere else.
HOWEVER, Encryption suffers from an inherent limitation that it requires a key to decrypt the data. And if that key, in some way, is compromised, it can decrypt all the information that has been sent or received earlier.
For Example, if hackers are trying to pry over your data and collect it, even the encrypted one, they can continue doing so for a long time until they get the key to decrypt all the data. Once they get the key, they will have access to all the data that they have been accumulating over time.
What is Perfect Forward Secrecy?
Perfect Forward Secrecy Protocol was designed to eliminate the inherent limitation of Encryptions. Perfect Forward Secrecy Protocol generates different keys for all the different messages and data sent or received over the internet.
This Future Proofs the chances of an attack. Because it isn’t just one decryption key that is working now and rather different keys for all different messages and mails.
Perfect Forward Secrecy system continually generates new encryption and decryption key such that even if the key is compromised, it only reveals the latest information and nothing before and after that which makes it really secure to use.
“You are constantly generating new keys for new messages” says Nadim Kobeissi, the creator of Cryptocat. Every time you open or reload an encrypted page, every time you log in to your Messaging App, every time you message, there is another key, different from the previous and the next one.
All the modern-day messaging apps come pre-equipped with the Perfect Forward Interface functionality. However, this is not the case with the websites we surf.
All the famous browsers these days come with the Perfect Forward Secrecy Functionality. Also, all the web addresses that comply with HTTPS standard, are safe because they encrypt the user data. However, most websites can’t work with PFS or Perfect Forward Secrecy Protocol. Famous E-Commerce sites like Amazon and eBay do offer the functionality, but a lot of others don’t.
Moreover, even a lot of banking websites don’t support Perfect forward functionality which makes them really insecure.
Hackers accumulating data over the months and years in order to extract the key to decrypt it is not paranoia. It is the real-world situation. And you are more likely to be a victim of this if you happen to work for a big corporate or NPO which makes you a delicious target for the hackers.
Hence, Perfect Forward Secrecy interface is really great to have and should be all pervasive. Until it isn’t, you may try and employ a VPN that can provide an extra layer of security to your data.
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So, this was all on What is Perfect Forward Secrecy and why do we need it. We hope we were able to provide you the information you were looking for. Keep Visiting Tweak Library for more such tech related content.