AES Encryption: A Beginner's Guide

AES encryption, also known as Advanced Encryption Standard, is a symmetric encryption algorithm widely used to secure sensitive information. It uses a fixed block size of 128 bits and key sizes of 128, 192, or 256 bits. In this blog, we'll go over the basics of AES encryption, its pros and cons, and a simple implementation in PHP with an example.

Pros of AES encryption:

  • AES encryption is fast and efficient, making it suitable for encryption of large amounts of data.
  • It is a widely used encryption standard, ensuring compatibility with many systems.
  • AES encryption is secure and has been extensively tested for security vulnerabilities.
  • It is an approved encryption standard for government use, ensuring its reliability.

Cons of AES encryption:

  • AES encryption requires a key to encrypt and decrypt the data, which must be kept secret and protected.
  • AES encryption can only be used with symmetric encryption, meaning that the same key must be used for both encryption and decryption.

Implementation in PHP:

Here is an example implementation of AES encryption in PHP using the OpenSSL library:

function encryptAES($plaintext, $key) {
  $iv = openssl_random_pseudo_bytes(16);
  $ciphertext = openssl_encrypt($plaintext, 'AES-256-CBC', $key, OPENSSL_RAW_DATA, $iv);
  return base64_encode($iv . $ciphertext);

function decryptAES($ciphertext, $key) {
  $ciphertext = base64_decode($ciphertext);
  $iv = substr($ciphertext, 0, 16);
  $ciphertext = substr($ciphertext, 16);
  return openssl_decrypt($ciphertext, 'AES-256-CBC', $key, OPENSSL_RAW_DATA, $iv);

$plaintext = "This is a test message.";
$key = "This is a secret key.";

$ciphertext = encryptAES($plaintext, $key);
$decrypted = decryptAES($ciphertext, $key);

echo "Plaintext: " . $plaintext . "\n";
echo "Ciphertext: " . $ciphertext . "\n";
echo "Decrypted: " . $decrypted . "\n";

In this example, the encryptAES function takes the plaintext and a key as input, generates a random 16-byte initialization vector (IV), and then encrypts the plaintext using AES-256-CBC encryption. The IV and ciphertext are then concatenated and encoded as base64 for storage or transmission.

The decryptAES function takes the ciphertext and the key as input, decodes the base64-encoded ciphertext, extracts the IV, and then decrypts the ciphertext using the key and IV.

This is just a simple example of how to implement AES encryption in PHP. In a real-world scenario, you would need to consider additional security measures such as key management, data integrity checks, and encryption of sensitive data at rest.

In conclusion, AES encryption is a reliable and secure encryption algorithm that is widely used in many applications. With its efficient performance and compatibility with many systems, AES encryption is a good choice for protecting sensitive information.

Md. Rakibul Islam About Author

Founder of Themicly and Software Engineer at Portonics Limited, developing and maintaining open source libraries. Find me on TwitterGitHub or Linkedin.