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Difference between Software Encryption and Hardware Encryption
  • Last Updated : 05 Mar, 2021

1. Software Encryption :
Software Encryption, as name suggests, is basically a process of keeping data safe using software. In this, software is generally installed in host computer that encrypts and decrypts data. It is more cost-effective for smaller companies. In this, password is key that one needs to have access to data. It usually shares processing resources with all other programs or processes on system that might have impact on performance of all other functions of system.

Examples : LastPass, BitLocker, VeraCrypt, DiskCryptor, etc., are some software encryption tools that are best to use to keep valuable data safe and secure.

2. Hardware Encryption :
Hardware Encryption, as name suggests, is basically a process of keeping data safe using dedicated and separate processor. It is more cost-effective for larger companies because it does not require any additional software installation. In this, password, biometrics such as fingerprints can be used to have access to data. It provides much greater throughput capacity and speed in large-scale environment. It also includes faster algorithm processing, tamper-proof or tamper-resistant key storage, and protection against unauthorized code.

Examples : Wireless access point or wireless base station, Credit card point-of sale-device, network bulk encrypts, etc.

Difference between Software Encryption and Hardware Encryption :



Software Encryption 

Hardware Encryption

It simply uses symmetric cryptography where same key is used for encryption and decryption.  It simply uses on-board security of devices to perform encryption and decryption. 
It generally allows to encrypt data during backup job, data replication job, or auxiliary copy job.It generally allows to encrypt data on tape drives that have built-in encryption capabilities.
It is cost-effective and cheap to implement as compared to hardware encryption.  It is costly to implement as compared to software encryption.  
It is less secure as compared to hardware encryption. It is more secure and safer as compared to software encryption because encryption process is separate from rest of machine that makes it much hardware to break or intercept.  
Software encryptions systems usually have built-in recovery mechanisms but should set up their recovery options in advance.  Hardware encryption systems does not include additional recovery options. 
Its encrypted storage is less expensive than hardware tool.  Its encrypted storage is more expensive than software tool. 
It uses computer resources to encrypt data and perform cryptographic operations. It uses dedicated processor that is physically located on encrypted drive instead of computer processor.  
It needs to be reinstalled if OS is changed because software encryption exists in software of machine.  It will remain in place no matter what happens to computer system because hardware encryption exists outside of computer’s software. 
It can be copied to different drives or computer if one wants to expand security to other machines. One has to purchase additional drive with hardware encryption if one wants to expand security because it only covers one drive at a time.  
It uses computer processor to handle data encryption and therefore slows down overall system performance.  It runs on its own hardware i.e.; encryption happens within separate processor and therefore has no effect on overall system performance.  
It does not require any additional hardware.It usually requires a separate dedicated processor.  
It uses secret key generated from encryption software that runs on PC.  It uses secret key generated from physical attribute of storage device.

 

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