Encryption is the process of obscuring information to make it unreadable without special knowledge, sometimes referred to as scrambling. Encryption has been used to protect communications for centuries, but only organizations and individuals with an extraordinary need for secrecy had made use of it. In the mid-1970s, strong encryption emerged from the sole preserve of secretive government agencies into the public domain, and is now used in protecting widely-used systems, such as Internet e-commerce, mobile telephone networks and bank automatic teller machines.