Glossary definition of Encryption

Encryption is a method of transforming data for security reasons, so that the meaning of the data is concealed.

There are several methods that can be used for encryption or coding, such as the use of a cryptographic algorithm to turn the 'plain text' (the original unaltered data) into a 'cipher text' (data that has been modified according to the algorithm). The message requiring encryption may be coded one block of data at a time (a 'block cipher'), or it may be coded one word, byte or bit at a time (a 'stream cipher').

If the cryptographic algorithm is particularly difficult to break, or decode, then the encrypted data can be safely sent over a network without fear that sensitive information might be revealed to third parties, who might steal or otherwise make malicious use of it.

At the receiving end the same algorithm can be used to 'decipher' the message (decryption) and return it back into the original data. Encryption is often used in situations on the Internet where secure links are required, e.g. when a subscriber is making financial transactions with a credit card.

Phones tagged with Encryption