In a symmetric cipher, the same key is used for encryption and decryption. What are some disadvantages of using the same key?
The disadvantage of symmetric encryption
Symmetric encryption always use the same key for encryption and decryption - that is the very definition of it. That has one major downside.
If the person doing the encryption and the decryption are not the same, they have to somehow securely share the key. If A generates a random key and encrypts a message for B with it, how does he get the key to B? To do this securely, he has to transmit the key out of bound, or encrypt it with B's public key using asymmetric encryption.
Obviously asymmetric encryption does not suffer from this disadvantage, since B can freely share his public key with anybody without loosing any confidentiality.
The disadvantage of asymmetric encryption
One word: Performance. It is slower than symmetric encryption. Therefore it is in general just used to encrypt a symmetric key that is used to encrypt the rest of the message.
This is fairly easy to understand. Simply symmetric encryption use single key for encryption and decryption while asymmetric use different keys (4 different keys).
Main disadvantage of symmetric key is the damage, if someone get your key. He can read your messages(sent/receive). Because you use the same “compromised key” for encryption and decryption.(Read both sent and receive)
But in asymmetric key sender(X) and receiver(Y) has two different private keys for decryption. Let’s assume someone take the ‘X’ private key. So he can read the messages sent by ‘Y’. But still key can’t read messages send by ‘X’. Because for that he needs to know the ‘Y’ private key.(Read only sent or receive)
Summary: damage is massive when you lost your symmetric key. In Asymmetric, you need to know the both private keys to do the same damage.
Other point is there is no way to safely share the secret key with both parties