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Digital Envelope

Definition - What does Digital Envelope mean?

A digital envelope is a secure electronic data container that is used to protect a message through encryption and data authentication. A digital envelope allows users to encrypt data with the speed of secret key encryption and the convenience and security of public key encryption.

Rivest, Shamir and Adleman (RSA) Public-Key Cryptography Standard (PKCS) #7 governs the application of cryptography to data for digital envelopes and digital signatures.

A digital envelope is also known as a digital wrapper.

Techopedia explains Digital Envelope

A digital envelope uses two layers for encryption: Secret (symmetric) key and public key encryption. Secret key encryption is used for message encoding and decoding. Public key encryption is used to send a secret key to a receiving party over a network. This technique does not require plain text communication.

Either of the following methods may be used to create a digital envelope:
  • Secret key encryption algorithms, such as Rijndael or Twofish, for message encryption.
  • Public key encryption algorithm from RSA for secret key encryption with a receiver’s public key.

A digital envelope may be decrypted by using a receiver's private key to decrypt a secret key, or by using a secret key to decrypt encrypted data.

An example of a digital envelope is Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) - a popular data cryptography software that also provides cryptographic privacy and data communication authentication.
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