Expanded Definition of Encryption

TO: Prof. Ellis

FROM: Ron Bepat

DATE: 10/27/2021

SUBJECT: Expanded Definition of Encryption


The Purpose of this document is to elaborate on the word “encryption,” identify the historical references from where this term started and explain how the term’s definition has evolved throughout history. Both the old and modern versions of the term “encryption” will be compared. I will be discussing the way it’s defined by explaining how encryption works in full detail and outlining what it takes to make sure a piece of data is safe. I will be breaking down the meaning behind encryption and why it’s so important to encrypt data in the tech industry, in a world where there are so many hackers stealing data. Protecting data is as important as protecting a social security number, as it can be easily stolen and manipulated if not managed properly.


According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term “Encryption” was first used in the 1960s in the Navy [1] — “Proc. U.S. Naval Inst. Dec. 38/1  After giving the message..to the waiting code clerk for encryption..I strolled about the Consulate grounds.” The Navy would create secret messages that could only be deciphered by each other, which is essentially what Encryption is in it’s simplest form — taking a message and mixing it up so only certain people can understand given a certain code. Another example from the Oxford Dictionary is a type of language that is similar to encryption, called Morse Code [5], which is defined as “code devised by Morse for use with the electric telegraph, in which the letters are represented by combinations of long and short electrical signals represented audibly or visually, or by long and short flashes of light or (in writing) dashes and dots.” This Definition was first used back in 1867. This connection between Morse code and the modern word “encryption” is similar as only certain people are able to understand Morse code — the only people who can understand the message are the sender and receiver. The sender would be the one who creates the unreadable code to the sender. It doesn’t have to be a message and can be any form of data. Another definition from The Britannica is [2] “Data encryption, also called encryption or encipherment, the process of disguising information as ciphertext, or data unintelligible to an unauthorized person. Conversely, decryption, or decipherment, is the process of converting ciphertext back into its original format. Manual encryption has been used since Roman times, but the term has become associated with the disguising of information via electronic computers. Encryption is a process basic to cryptology.” This form of communication is so secretive that it can help send important information without an untrusted or unauthorized person being able to understand or access that information. The type of encryption where someone sends unorganized info to another is called end – to – end encryption, which is also used today in the form of emails and text messages. These types of messages are only allowed to be viewed by the sender and intended recipient. For example, if a hacker were to pull up a WhatsApp chat, they would just see a bunch of encrypted text.


This is a quote from Norton a company based on securing and protecting data [3] — “To unlock the message, both the sender and the recipient have to use a “secret” encryption key — a collection of algorithms that scramble and unscramble data back to a readable format.” This process needs an encryption key because without that key, data cannot be locked or unlocked. Here is another quote from an academic journal called “Information security analysis of deterministic encryption and chaotic encryption in spatial domain and frequency domain” [4] — “In cryptography, encryption and decryption are used to protect privacy and confidentiality of transmitted data via the process of encoding and decoding, so that the authorized parties are able to access it exclusively.” Encryption keys can be used for both unlocking and locking data. When a hacker doesn’t have a key, they try to make their own by using ransomware to break into the data and reveal the message or what data is being stored.

Working Definition:

Currently encryption is mainly used in the cyber security, database, networking, and programming fields to protect people’s data. To encrypt data in the programming field is to prevent any outsiders from stealing a person’s code. The user may need to use a program to juggle the data into a message that is more obscured and does not look like the original data. This data can only be deciphered by converting the text using a decryption program. A person would need technology, mainly a working computer, to either decrypt or encrypt data. The user has 2 keys — a decryption key and an encryption key. Each key is only used for their specific purposes. For example, a user can’t use the encryption key to decrypt the data —they would need to use the decryption key for that. If a coworker asked to open a certain piece of data that they don’t have access to, they would have to go to the system administrator of the network and ask for permission to this data and obtaining the decryption key. A person can also make their own algorithms to encrypt their data using any code they see fit to edit the data. Once the text is encrypted, it is essentially unreadable, and this text is called cipher text.


            [1] “”encrypt, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2021. Web. 14 October 2021,


[2] “Data Encryption.” Brittanica Academic https://academic-eb-com.citytech.ezproxy.cuny.edu/levels/collegiate/article/data-encryption/2217.

[3] Written by Alison Grace Johansen for NortonLifeLock. “What Is Encryption and How Does It Protect Your Data?” Norton, https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-privacy-what-is-encryption.html.

[4] Z. Ye, H. Yin and Y. Ye, “Information security analysis of deterministic encryption and chaotic encryption in spatial domain and frequency domain,” 2017 14th International Conference on Electrical Engineering, Computing Science and Automatic Control (CCE), 2017, pp. 1-6, doi: 10.1109/ICEEE.2017.8108905.

[5] “Morse, n.3.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2021. Web. 14 October 2021.


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