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Facts About Encryption

The conversion or ‘scrambling’ of information or data into a secret code or another form that cannot be easily understood by unauthorized or unintended users, is called “encryption”. The encrypted data format is called ‘cipher text’; unencrypted data is referred to as ‘plain text’.

It is a means to enhance and upgrade the security of information such as a message or file by scrambling the data in such a manner that it can only be read or ‘unscrambled’ by the intended person with the right encryption key. Using encryption software is the most effective means used to get a high degree of protection for sensitive data. Encryption of files or data does not mean that messages cannot be intercepted; it only prevents the message content from being visible to the unauthorized interceptor.

Decryption is the term used for conversion of encrypted data or information into the original format for viewing and understanding.

Use of encryption and decryption

The art of encryption is as old as the system of communication. It’s interesting to read reports of war time activities where codes were used in communicating troop positions, attack commands, warship locations etc. In cryptography, these are known as ciphers. Elements of simple cipher includes rotation of the alphabet letters and by number substitution; today however, sophisticated computer algorithms do that function by using digital signals to rearrange bits of data.

Decryption of encrypted data is possible by using the correct algorithm key that works to undo the encryption algorithm.

Besides communication, encryption of data is essential for government functions such as the military and defense. In public usage, many companies use encryption to prevent loss or misuse of sensitive data and strategies. Online purchasing through usage of cards is another area where data encryption is strongly used.

However, certain objections have been voiced against the use of strong encryption that renders itself unbreakable without the right decryption keys. As prospects of cyber crime and terrorist activities flood the world, governments around the globe are faced with the prospect of evasion by unlawful organizations through the smokescreen of encrypted data. They argue that data which cannot be decrypted pose an even more dangerous outcome. Efforts are on to persuade companies, organizations and governmental agencies that use cipher text to provide the keys for decryption of data, which will be secured by the authorities and stored in a safe place for use later.