Encryption is a process of translating a message, called the Plaintext, into an encoded message, called the Ciphertext. This is usually accomplished using a secret Encryption Key and a cryptographic Cipher.

Two basic types of Encryption are commonly used:

Some interesting politics surround strong Encryption:

  • Strong (i.e., hard to break) Encryption algorithms are considered to be a munitions by the United States government. Exporting such algorithms therefore amounts to arms smuggling -- a very serious offence!
  • Some countries (i.e., France) forbid their citizens from using strong Encryption.
  • Strong encryption algorithms are freely available everywhere in the world, on the Internet.
  • In the United States, it is possible to patent an algorithm, including an Encryption Cipher. This can limit who can make such algorithms.

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