Digital Envelope

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.

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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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Margaret Rouse

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.