Public Key Cryptography

aka asymmetric cryptography

What is Public Key Cryptography

In public-key cryptographic systems, keys always come in pairs and offer various capabilities. The capabilities are based on cryptographic mathematics. As the name suggests, the public key is meant to be distributed while the private key is to be jealously guarded. Compare the key pairs to having your house address public but keeping the key to your house private.

  • Modern cryptographic systems leverage computer capabilities to make the power of certain mathematical functions accessible. Public key cryptography is also known as asymmetric cryptography and is a cryptographic system that employs pairs of keys. Every pair consists of a public and a private key.
  • The security of the system is not endangered as long as the private key is not disclosed. Compared to symmetric key algorithms, asymmetric ones do not require parties to use a secure channel to exchange the keys for encryption and decryption.
  • Asymmetric cryptography has two primary applications:
    • Authentication
      • The public key serves as a verification instrument for the private key pair. Encryption
    • Encryption
      • Only the private key can decrypt the information encrypted with the public key.