The word “encryption” is often used in connection with computer systems. For example, we talk about “encrypted” conversations on WhatsApp or “encryption” of data on a hard drive. However, this is a misnomer. Indeed, the word “encryption” should not be used. If something is encrypted, it means that no one knows how to decode it to understand it, which is not the case with computer data intentionally encoded in order to be protected. In this case, the data has been transformed using a secret key and it suffices to know this key to decode it. This is what happens in computers. We must therefore speak instead of “encryption”.
Encryption is not encryption
So where does this confusion come from? It originates from the word “decryption”, which itself exists and describes the action of decoding a message without having the code (for example: Egyptian hieroglyphics decrypted by Champollion or German messages during the Second World War). The confusion is also maintained by the English word “encryption”, which resembles the word encryption but actually means “encryption”. Encryption is a technique known as cryptography (protection by secret code) which is part of a set of techniques called cryptology. Of course, all this is only a question of vocabulary which does not change the face of the world but which is important if one likes to use exact words when talking about technologies.