What is cleartext in security?

In cryptography, cleartext is a readable message that has been decrypted from a previously unreadable one. In business, you often want to protect sensitive information, be it sales reports, passwords, or confidential employee information. In order to ensure all of this remains undiscovered, 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.

While plaintext and cleartext read the same, they are very different concepts because they come before and after encryption, respectively. When protecting confidential information, reading cleartext is a sign that encryption has worked effectively, meaning that nothing has been revealed to forces outside of the company.

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