ISO/IEC 18033-2:2006 specifies encryption systems (ciphers) for the purpose of data confidentiality. The primary purpose of encryption (or encipherment) techniques is to protect the confidentiality of stored or transmitted data. An encryption algorithm is applied to data (often called plaintext or cleartext) to yield encrypted data (or ciphertext); this process is known as encryption. The encryption algorithm should be designed so that the ciphertext yields no information about the plaintext except, perhaps, its length. Associated with every encryption algorithm is a corresponding decryption algorithm, which transforms ciphertext back into its original plaintext.
An asymmetric, i.e. public-key, encryption scheme allows a sender to use a recipient's public key to transmit an encryption of a message to the receiver, who can use his secret key to decrypt the given ciphertext, thereby obtaining the original message.
Such a scheme should be secure in the sense that no information about the message should be leaked to a (resource-bounded) attacker, even if that attacker mounts a so-called 'chosen ciphertext' attack, in which he may obtain decryptions of other ciphertexts. This is the strongest type of attack that has been proposed for a public-key encryption scheme.
ISO/IEC 18033-2:2006 specifies the functional interface of such a scheme, and in addition specifies a number of particular schemes that appear to be secure against chosen ciphertext attack. The different schemes offer different trade-offs between security properties and efficiency.