Hybrid Encryption

Why Trust Techopedia

What Does Hybrid Encryption Mean?

Hybrid encryption is an approach to encoding and decoding data that blends the speed and convenience of a public asymmetric encryption scheme with the effectiveness of a private symmetric encryption scheme.


In this approach to cryptography, the sender generates a private key, encrypts the key by using a public key algorithm and then encrypts the entire message (including the already-encrypted private key) with the original symmetric key. The encoded cipher can only be decoded if the recipient knows the private key the sender originally generated.

If Bob wants to send an encypted message to Alice in a hybrid cryptosystem, for example, he might do the following:

  • Request Alice’s public key.
  • Generate a new symmetric (private) key and use it to encrypt a message.
  • Use Alice’s public key to encrypt the new symmetric (private) key and the message.
  • Send the entire cipher to Alice.

Alice will then be able to use her own private key to decrypt the sender’s private key and decode the rest of the message.

Security researchers are looking at ways hybrid encryption can be used as an alternative in quantum computing to more traditional encryption schemes. Until standards have been put in place, however, a hybrid approach can be accompanied by an increased risk of implementation flaws that can negate the encryption scheme’s usefulness.

Techopedia Explains Hybrid Encryption

A hybrid encryption scheme is one that blends the convenience of an asymmetric encryption scheme with the effectiveness of a symmetric encryption scheme.

How Hybrid Encryption Works

Hybrid encryption is achieved through data transfer using unique session keys along with symmetrical encryption. Public key encryption is implemented for random symmetric key encryption. The recipient then uses the public key encryption method to decrypt the symmetric key. Once the symmetric key is recovered, it is then used to decrypt the message.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hybrid Encryption

The combination of encryption methods has various advantages. One is that a connection channel is established between two users’ sets of equipment. Users then have the ability to communicate through hybrid encryption.

Asymmetric encryption can slow down the encryption process, but with the simultaneous use of symmetric encryption, both forms of encryption are enhanced. The result is the added security of the transmittal process along with overall improved system performance.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.