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Definition: plaintext


(1) (plain text) Text that contains no formatting. See text email.

(2) (plaintext) Data about to be encrypted. Plaintext can be viewed by any application that supports the file format. Contrast with "ciphertext," which is encrypted data. The reason "text" is in both terms is because the early forms of encryption dealt with communicating text messages. Today, all kinds of data are encrypted, including the contents of an entire storage drive. See cryptography.




Plaintext Becomes Ciphertext
In this secret key example, the XOR operator turns plaintext into ciphertext and back to plaintext. In practice, XOR may be used but in combination with other mathematical operations. See XOR.