In cryptography, plaintext is anything that can be read by and understood by humans. It’s the ordinary text that you read.

An easy example is this very definition. You can read just like any other readable text. But it’s not just limited to readable sentences.

Plaintext can also include data sent by network protocols during computer network communications, certain source code or programming scripts, or even Java code.

Most people are familiar with plaintext that they receive as text-based emails or documents created using a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

More specific to encryption, plaintext is inputted into an encryption algorithm, which then takes that plaintext message and produces a ciphertext. Using the process of decryption, ciphertext can be reversed to generate the original plaintext.

Plaintext passwords are common targets of cyber-attacks and hacks.

Plaintext example: HELLO

Ciphertext output example: XRTTV