## cryptography

The practise and study of encryption and decryption - encoding data so that it can only be decoded by specific individuals. A system for encrypting and decrypting data is a cryptosystem. These usually involve an algorithm for combining the original data ("plaintext") with one or more "keys" - numbers or strings of characters known only to the sender and/or recipient. The resulting output is known as "ciphertext".

The security of a cryptosystem usually depends on the secrecy of (some of) the keys rather than with the supposed secrecy of the algorithm. A strong cryptosystem has a large range of possible keys so that it is not possible to just try all possible keys (a "brute force" approach). A strong cryptosystem will produce ciphertext which appears random to all standard statistical tests. A strong cryptosystem will resist all known previous methods for breaking codes ("cryptanalysis").

See also cryptology, public-key encryption, RSA.

Usenet newsgroups: news:sci.crypt, news:sci.crypt.research.