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Do you need military-grade encryption?

If you’re logging into your online banking, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), encrypting files on your hard drive, you probably want better security that’s harder to crack on your VPN.

To make you as relaxed and simply sound as safe as possible, on their websites and in advertising, many services offer “military-grade encryption.” “Bank-level encryption” is another term in marketing that has been thrown around a lot. It’s basically the same thing: AES-256 or AES-128, because most banks are using them. In fact, some banks are advertising their “encryption of military grade.”

So what is encryption?

While computer scientists or developers have developed far more complicated methods to do so, it is that encryption simply takes some meaningful information and scrambles it so it becomes gibberish. Turning it back into real information — video files, images, or simple messages — can only be achieved by decrypting it back from gibberish using a method called a cipher, usually depending on important piece of information called a key.

Military encryption means encryption with AES-256. This is the Advanced Encryption Standard with a key size of 256-bit. AES-256 has a larger key size that differs from AES-128 and AES-192. This requires a little more processing power used for encryption and decryption, but all that extra work will make AES-256 even more difficult to crack.

AES-256 has been widely used by many services and software. Actually it is likely that you are using this military-grade encryption all the time. Windows use AES-128 by default, but AES-128 should still be very secure and resistant to attack, also can be called “military-grade”.

 AES-128 is essentially as safe but with that larger number and that “military-grade encryption” many people would feel more secure. The thing is, you have pretty good encryption AES-256, AES-128, or AES-192. In brief, “military-grade” does not mean too much.