Home : Technical Terms : Decryption Definition

Decryption

Decryption is the process of converting encrypted data into recognizable information. It is the opposite of encryption, which takes readable data and makes it unrecognizable.

Files and data transfers may be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access. If someone tries to view an encrypted document, it will appear as a random series of characters. If someone tries to "snoop" on an encrypted network connection, the data will not make any sense. So how is it possible to view encrypted data? The answer is decryption.

How Decryption Works

There are several ways to encrypt files, but most methods involve one or more "keys." When encrypting a file, the key may be a single password. Network encryption often involves a public key and a private key shared between each end of the data transfer.

Decryption works by applying the opposite conversion algorithm used to encrypt the data. The same key is required to return the encrypted data to its original state. For example, if the password "ABC123" is used to encrypt a file, the same password is needed to decrypt the file.

Secure network transfers, including Internet connections, handle encryption and decryption in the background. Protocols such as HTTPS and Secure SMTP encrypt and decrypt data on the fly. These protocols automatically generate a secure key for each encrypted network transfer and do not require a password.

NOTE: Encrypting data is a smart way to protect private information from prying eyes. But make sure to use a password you will remember when encrypting files. If you cannot remember your password, the data may be unrecoverable.

Updated: May 8, 2021

Cite this definition:

https://techterms.com/definition/decryption

TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definition of Decryption. It explains in computing terminology what Decryption means and is one of many technical terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Decryption definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!

Subscribe to the TechTerms Newsletter to get featured terms and quizzes right in your inbox. You can choose to receive either a daily or weekly email.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe at any time.
Questions? Please contact us.