ECC, RSA & DSA Encryption Algorithm: Difference to Know

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RSA, DSA And ECC Encryption

With the rapid rise of cryptography, the RSA algorithm was a groundbreaking creation that forever changed the landscape of secure communication.

Conceived in 1977 by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman, RSA harnesses the computational challenge of prime number factorization to create a robust public key/private fundamental framework.

This blog delves into the intricacies of ECC (Elliptic Curve Cryptography) VS RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman), shedding light on the battle of encryption algorithms. Join us as we explore the strengths and nuances of these cryptographic giants, providing insights into the ECC vs. RSA encryption algorithm discussion.

Securing Internet Communications with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

Today, where identity and security are paramount, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a crucial tool. With its foundation in public key cryptography, PKI manages the intricate dance of encryption and decryption by utilizing two distinctive keys: the public key and the private key.

Discover how PKI revolutionizes internet communications and computer networking, enhancing identity and security in cyberspace.

How Public Key Cryptography is Important?

Public key cryptography is a crucial component of modern encryption, relying on mathematical algorithms to generate secure keys. The process involves the creation of a public key, a sequence of random numbers used for encryption.

The intended recipient can only decipher the encrypted message using the corresponding private key that is kept secret and known solely to the recipient.

Public keys are created through complex cryptographic algorithms to ensure robust security, protecting them from brute-force attacks. The strength of protection is determined by the critical size or bit length, with 2048-bit RSA keys commonly used in SSL certificates and digital signatures.

These keys provide cryptographic security that thwarts attempts by hackers to crack the algorithm. Regulatory bodies like the CA/Browser Forum establish baseline requirements for supported key sizes.

How PKI Helps Digital Certificates Work?

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) plays a vital role in facilitating the deployment of digital certificates, which have become integral to our daily digital interactions. Whether browsing websites, using mobile apps, accessing online documents, or utilizing connected devices, we encounter digital certificates seamlessly and extensively.

One prominent application of PKI is the X.509-based Transport Layer Security (TLS)/Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol, forming the foundation of secure web browsing through HTTPS.

Moreover, digital certificates find use in diverse scenarios such as application code signing, digital signatures, and various aspects of digital identity and security.

Understand RSA, DSA, and ECC Algorithms in PKI

RSA, DSA, and ECC are three distinct algorithms used in PKI key generation, each with its characteristics and advantages.


The RSA algorithm, named after its creators Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman, employs modular exponentiation and is widely recognized for its security. It generates public key/private key pairs and has been extensively adopted in various applications.

RSA is known for its longer key lengths, typically measured in bits, which provide strong cryptographic protection.


The Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) differs from RSA regarding the underlying mathematical approach used to generate key pairs. It relies on modular exponentiation and the discrete logarithm problem.

DSA was proposed by NIST in 1991 and gained FIPS certification in 1993. It offers comparable levels of security to RSA, with equivalent-sized keys.


Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) is based on mathematical algorithms that operate on the algebraic structure of elliptic curves over finite fields. Despite using shorter critical lengths compared to RSA and DSA, ECC provides equivalent levels of cryptographic strength.

ECDSA, an ECC-based digital signature algorithm, was accredited in 1999, followed by Key Agreement and Key Transport Using Elliptic Curve Cryptography in 2001. ECC holds FIPS certification and is endorsed by the NSA.

It’s worth noting that supporting multiple encryption algorithms concurrently is possible.

For instance, Apache servers can accommodate both RSA- and DSA-generated keys on the same server, enhancing overall enterprise security. Organizations can simultaneously leverage different algorithms’ benefits by employing a “belts and suspenders” approach.

Everything You Need to Know Before Implementing ECC Encryption

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to implement ECC encryption in an environment that is not prepared for it, there is a solution called hybrid SSL.

This approach enables the implementation of ECC cryptography using RSA-trusted root keys. To set this up, discussing it with your certificate authority (CA) and hosting provider is advisable.

  • ECC encryption relies on the Elliptic Curve Discrete Logarithm Problem (ECDLP) to detect the separate logarithm of a random elliptic curve. This mathematical problem is difficult to crack for hackers, and the brute force approach is unlikely to succeed due to the vast number of options provided by each bit size in ECC. This results in more robust security with shorter keys than RSA, reducing network overhead and enhancing performance.
  • One advantage of ECC encryption is its smaller certificate size. The amount of information required for validation is significantly less than that of RSA, leading to lower network overhead and improved scalability. It allows for handling increased traffic without significant infrastructure changes, making it particularly suitable for the Internet of Things (IoT) and promoting a better user experience.
  • Furthermore, ECC encryption consumes less CPU and memory resources, benefiting clients and servers. It streamlines connections, simplifies processes, and offers improved energy efficiency. ECC responds faster than RSA, enabling efficient communication between servers and desktops.
  • In cases where compatibility with older equipment is necessary, hybrid SSL certificates can bridge the gap. This approach allows ECC algorithms to be supported even with RSA-trusted root certificates, providing a solution that accommodates legacy systems.

How RSA, DSA, and ECC are Different from Each Other?

RSA and DSA, despite using different mathematical algorithms for key pair generation, are widely regarded as equivalent in terms of cryptographic strength. The critical differences between RSA and DSA lie in performance, SSH protocol support, federal endorsement, and compatibility with internet protocols.

Regarding performance and speed, RSA outperforms DSA in encryption and signing, while DSA excels in decryption and verification.

However, since authentication typically involves both operations, the performance disparity between RSA and DSA is often insignificant. RSA takes longer for key generation, but this is generally not a significant concern, given that keys are generated infrequently and used for extended periods.

Regarding SSH protocol support, RSA is compatible with both the original SSH and the newer SSH2, whereas DSA is limited to SSH2. SSH2 is more secure than its predecessor so that it might influence the choice of DSA for specific applications.

One notable distinction is that DSA carries the endorsement of the U.S. Federal Government. It can benefit businesses serving federal agencies that must align with government standards.

For most use cases, industries, and regulatory environments, RSA and DSA offer comparable cryptographic strength, with minimal differences between the two. Both algorithms exhibit equal compatibility with leading internet protocols such as Nettle, OpenSSL, wolfCrypt, Crypto++, and cryptlib.

What are the Features of RSA, DSA, and ECC?

ECC (Elliptic Curve Cryptography) differs from RSA and DSA regarding cryptographic strength, efficiency, and speed.

The primary distinction lies in ECC’s superior cryptographic strength for equivalent vital sizes. An ECC key provides greater security than an RSA or DSA key of the same size.

ECC achieves equivalent cryptographic strength with significantly smaller key sizes, approximately an order of magnitude smaller. For instance, to match the cryptographic strength of a 112-bit symmetric key, an RSA key would need to be 2048 bits long, whereas an ECC key would only require 224 bits.

The shorter key lengths offer efficiency and processing power requirements advantages. ECC devices require fewer computational resources for encryption and decryption, making them well-suited for mobile devices, Internet of Things (IoT) applications, and scenarios with limited computing capabilities.

Regarding security and speed, ECC benefits traditional use cases such as web servers. The shorter key sizes allow for more robust security and faster SSL handshakes. It translates to improved web page load times, enhancing user experience.

It is important to note that ECDSA, a variant of DSA, is the original version of ECC. ECDSA provides equivalent levels of cryptographic strength per bit as ECC, further emphasizing the advantages of ECC over RSA and DSA.

Top Certificate Authorities Offering ECC Certificates:

Various Certificate Authorities (CAs) offer ECC certificates, providing a range of options to suit different needs and preferences:


DigiCert offers ECC algorithm support in their Secure Site Pro and Pro with EV SSL certificates, ensuring compatibility with modern browsers.

Sectigo Formerly Comodo:

Comodo (Now Sectigo) is another reputable CA that provides a wide range of ECC cryptographic options and configurations for their certificates.

These CAs, among others, recognize the significance of ECC in providing robust encryption and cryptographic strength. By offering ECC algorithm support, they provide users with a choice that aligns with modern security requirements.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a passionate Cyber-Security Enthusiast who keenly monitors the latest developments in the Web/Cyber Security industry. She puts her knowledge into practice and helps web users by arming them with the necessary security measures to stay safe in the digital world.