It seems as if they are either synonyms, or cipher was an older term for when they directly translated the same number (or almost same number) of "encrypted" characters into the same number of plaintext ones, whereas encryption means that they use such a complicated "algorithm" as to make it impossible to deduce the length of the message from just seeing the "encrypted blob", which uses highly complex "back-and-forths" to produce the final decrypted string.

  • You have put too many things together in one question. "Password" and "private key" are not related in any way. I'm removing the last line to help focus the question
    – schroeder
    Feb 19, 2020 at 12:42
  • Have you looked these terms for official definitions? Wiki seems to answer you directly in the first paragraph en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cipher
    – schroeder
    Feb 19, 2020 at 12:45
  • The short answer is there's no real difference. The Wikipedia article does a pretty good job of defining cipher en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cipher In fact, we use "block cipher" to define a type of encryption algorithm, so the terms are used interchangeably. Feb 19, 2020 at 15:25
  • 1
    This reminds me of a related question on crypto.SE that I answered a while ago. Feb 19, 2020 at 23:26

1 Answer 1


"Cipher" is the algorithm or process used to encrypt the data (i.e. AES, RSA, etc.). "Encryption" is the process of converting data using the aforementioned cipher.

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