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What is the difference between 128bit encryption and 256bit encryption

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  • sumitnxt Nov 17, 2009

    wow ... excellent reply .. thanks a lot

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First, let's review the basic:

Is important to understand what a bit is. A bit is a single value and can be either 0 or 1. ( 0 =OFF, 1=ON)
8 Bits are something like this: 10001011. Your computer have a 64-bit processor, so it can process numbers like: 10010110 11001111 0001010 11010000 10011110 111100111 01111010 11011000 Quite long number, isnt't it?

Encryption is the process of securing information that is sent over the internet using a code that scrambles (encrypts) and de-scrambles (decrypts) the data, typically based on prime numbers and called a "key". The length of the key will be either 128 bit or 256 bit. A 256 bit encryption is stronger than a 128 bit key encryption key, because it doubles the number of bits.

Just to give you an idea, here are 128 bits:

10010110 11001111 0001010 11010000 10011110 111100111 01111010 11011000 10010110 11001111 0001010 11010000 10011110 111100111 01111010 11011000

Now, here is a 256 bits packet:

10010110 11001111 0001010 11010000 10011110 111100111 01111010 11011000 10010110 11001111 0001010 11010000 10011110 111100111 01111010 11011000 10010110 11001111 0001010 11010000 10011110 111100111 01111010 11011000 10010110 11001111 0001010 11010000 10011110 111100111 01111010 11011000


So 128 bits long, mathematically means that there are 2e128 possible combinations, or about 3.4 x 10e38. This is an awful lot of combinations, which is what makes it nearly impossible to crack the security encryption. However, as computers get faster the numbers of bits required to ensure secure encryptions needs to be raised

Currently, the strongest level of protection you can get in an SSL certificate is 256-bit, which equates to 2e256 combinations or about 1.5 x10e77 possible combinations. As you can see, even though it is only twice the number of bits, the encryption is exponentially stronger.

In plain English; 128 bits key encryption is is a "door key" with 128 slots. You need to have the exact combination for all 128 slots. 256 bits makes more difficult to find the combination.

Posted on Nov 17, 2009

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