256-Bit Encryption

What Does 256-Bit Encryption Mean?

256-bit encryption is a data/file encryption technique that uses a 256-bit key to encrypt and decrypt data or files.

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It is one of the most secure encryption methods after 128- and 192-bit encryption, and is used in most modern encryption algorithms, protocols and technologies including AES and SSL. You will see the best VPNs for streaming and data privacy employ high encryption techniques.

Techopedia Explains 256-Bit Encryption

256-bit encryption is refers to the length of the encryption key used to encrypt a data stream or file. A hacker or cracker will require 2256 different combinations to break a 256-bit encrypted message, which is virtually impossible to be broken by even the fastest computers.

Typically, 256-bit encryption is used for data in transit, or data traveling over a network or Internet connection. However, it is also implemented for sensitive and important data such as financial, military or government-owned data. The U.S. government requires that all sensitive and important data be encrypted using 192- or 256-bit encryption methods.

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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.