What is AES 256-bit Encryption?

The Advanced Encryption System (AES) is the current encryption standard for most government and private sector IT security purposes. AES was chosen as the U.S. government security standard in 2001, and eventually also evolved into the encryption standard for most private sector enterprises.

AES uses a symmetric algorithm, which means the same key is applied for both encryption and decryption. The algorithm provides 128-bit block encryption and has been designed to supports key sizes of 128, 192 and 256 bits. AES 256-bit encryption is the strongest and most robust encryption standard that is commercially available today.

While it is theoretically true that AES 256-bit encryption is harder to crack than AES 128-bit encryption, AES 128-bit encryption has never been cracked. Furthermore, it would take many, many years to cover all of the possibilities generated by 128-bit encryption, so it is not likely to be cracked in the near future. That said, AES 256-bit encryption is the strongest encryption standard available, so you might as well use it if you have enough processing power.

256-bit encryption was not commonly used when the AES standards were first introduced in 2000, as using 256-bit encryption caused slower execution speeds in most networks given the higher processing demands. However, most devices today have much faster processors, and using 256-bit encryption does not typically slow down job execution significantly.

Idera SQL products are designed so you can choose the encryption level. You are prompted to choose 128-bit, 256-bit or no encryption as a default during installation, but you can switch encryption levels at any time.