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Security Portal: Introduction to Encryption

Sep 18, 2000, 19:57 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joshua Ryder)

"Encryption is the process of converting data from one form (what would be considered to be readable either through plaintext or through some specific viewer like MS Word) into ciphertext. The actual process that takes place during this conversion widely varies, but the end result is the same: after conversion to ciphertext, the data is in a form that is not easily readable to prying eyes."

"The process of encrypting and decrypting messages has been present since the beginning of primitive communications. Encryption has found many uses over the years, everything from decoder rings in cereal boxes to elaborate methods for governments and corporations to protect their secrets and intellectual property from prying eyes. However you look at it, in its lowest conceptual level, encryption helps provide a method to add a degree of security to communications."

"There is no one single way to encrypt a file. Hundreds of ciphers exist today and many more are being developed every year. Some can be done with nothing more than a pencil and a piece of paper, while others require the number-crunching power of a computer to be effective and practical. Below are some basic examples to illustrate how encryption works."

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