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How does decryption work?

I know how encryption works, but I'm not sure how decryption works. Could you explain the difference?
I'm not sure what kind of decryption you are thinking about. But here are some quick notes. If symmetric encryption is used, that is if one key can either encrypt of decrypt, then it's simple. The key is used with one of many algorithms to essential scramble the data. The same key can be used, with the algorithm in reverse to unscramble it. Think about division and multiplication, for example. If you know have a result of two numbers that have be multiplied together, but you only know one of the numbers, you can find the other by using division. Cryptographic algorithms are much more complex than plain old multiplication and division, but you get the idea, for each algorithm there is a way to reverse it, if you have the key.

This was first published in December 2003

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