Crypto Buzzwords

Encryption: It refers to the actual process of hiding information by transforming it into indecipherable information, usually by means of an algorithm. The encrypted information should then be decoded in order to obtain the original, and this can be done only by those who possess the decryption key.

Example:
Original information: The enemy is approaching.
Encrypted information: Uif fofnz jt bqqsbdijoh.

Decryption: It is the reverse process of encryption. Here, the encrypted information is converted back into its original comprehensible form.

Example:
Encrypted information: Uif fofnz jt bqqsbdijoh.
Decrypted information: The enemy is approaching.

Key: It is the piece of information required to transform the indecipherable text to its original understandable format or vice versa. The length of this key decides the difficulty level of decryption.

Example:
The transformation of "The enemy is approaching" to "Uif fofnz jt bqqsbdijoh" just involves a substitution of each alphabet with its next i.e., key=1.

Cipher: A generic term which could refer either to encryption algorithms or to methods of encryption. Through the years, many cipher machines like the ENIGMA, PURPLE etc have been devised on one hand, and cipher algorithms like RSA, PGP etc have been developed on the other. The above examples use a simple cipher which replaces every alphabet with its next.

Cryptanalysis: It is the act of deciphering the encoded text. To put it in layman terms, the act of cracking the code. Many strategies like Brute Force Attack, Kasiski examination etc are employed in order to facilitate this process.

Cipher Text: This refers to the actual indecipherable text which is obtained as a result of encryption.

Example: Uif fofnz jt bqqsbdijoh.

Plaintext: It is the original comprehensible message before encryption has taken place.

Example: The enemy is approaching.

Public Key: It is the key which is used for encryption provided by some designated authority used usually in combination with a private key.

Private Key: It is an encryption/decryption key known only to the sender and receiver.

Asymmetric Key Cryptography/ Public Key Cryptography: This type of cryptography uses one key (public key) for encryption and another mathematically related key (private key) for decryption.

Symmetric Key Cryptography: An encryption system wherein the sender and receiver share a single, common key that is used to encrypt and decrypt the message to be communicated.

Hashing: Transforming a string of characters into a relatively shorter fixed length value (or key) which represents the base string.

Example:
Original information - The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
After hashing - 6d12a41e72e644f017b6f0e2f7b44c6285f06dd5d2c5b075

References

Information security: Covering today's security topics.
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/
WEBOPEDIA: Online computer dictionary for computer and internet terms and definitions.
http://www.webopedia.com/