In cryptography, ciphertext is an unreadable message that must be decrypted before being understood. In business, you often need to protect sensitive information, be it sales reports, passwords, or confidential employee information. In order to ensure all of this remains undiscovered by hackers or unwanted eyes, encryption is used. Plaintext is the input into the encryption algorithm and ciphertext is the output, an unreadable string of characters that makes no sense to anyone who does not possess the key to the algorithm. Cleartext is the result of running the ciphertext through the de-encryption software, which is exactly the same as the plaintext that started the entire process.
Ciphertext looks completely illegible to people outside of your trusted circle, with whom you have shared the encryption key. You can relax when sending ciphertext over the internet because anyone who happens to get their hands on it will still have to figure out the key, which is an incredibly difficult process. It’s an increasingly important tool of operational safety.