What Is a Cipher?

Ciphers came about when people realised they needed to confidentially share information with one another without third parties potentially violating their privacy. Many consider ciphers as a critical concept in cryptography because it is part of the science of secure communication.

Ciphers typically start with the plaintext of what the individual wants to send out. Then, the cipher transforms this plaintext into ciphertext and sends it to the receiver, who has additional information, known as a ‘key’, to decipher the message.

Ciphers have been prevalent for decades, with the first ones relying on pen and paper instead of a computer programme.

Key Takeaway

A cipher is an algorithm used to encrypt or decrypt information.

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