### Symmetric-Key Encryption

With symmetric-key encryption, the encryption key can be calculated
from the decryption key, and vice versa. With most symmetric algorithms, the
same key is used for both encryption and decryption. The following figure
shows a symmetric-key encryption.

##### Figure 2–12 Symmetric-Key Encryption

Implementations of symmetric-key encryption can be highly efficient,
so that users do not experience any significant time delay as a result of
the encryption and decryption. Symmetric-key encryption also provides a degree
of authentication, since information encrypted with one symmetric key cannot
be decrypted with any other symmetric key. Thus, as long as the symmetric
key is kept secret by the two parties using it to encrypt communications,
each party can be sure that it is communicating with the other as long as
the decrypted messages continue to make sense.

Symmetric-key encryption is effective only if the symmetric key is kept
secret by the two parties involved. If anyone else discovers the key, it affects
both confidentiality and authentication. A person with an unauthorized symmetric
key not only can decrypt messages sent with that key, but can encrypt new
messages and send them as if they came from one of the two parties who were
originally using the key.

Symmetric-key encryption plays an important role in the SSL protocol,
which is widely used for authentication, tamper detection, and encryption
over TCP/IP networks. SSL also uses techniques of public-key encryption, which
is described in the next section.