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What are public keys and private keys in networking?

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2015-08-05 05:57:53

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The Public and Private key pair comprise of two uniquely related

cryptographic keys (basically long random numbers). Below is an

example of a Public Key:

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3048 0241 00C9 18FA CF8D EB2D EFD5 FD37 89B9 E069 EA97 FC20 5E35

F577 EE31 C4FB C6E4 4811 7D86 BC8F BAFA 362F 922B F01B 2F40 C744

2654 C0DD 2881 D673 CA2B 4003 C266 E2CD CB02 0301 0001

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The Public Key is what its name suggests - Public. It is made

available to everyone via a publicly accessible repository or

directory. On the other hand, the Private Key must remain

confidential to its respective owner. Because the key pair is

mathematically related, whatever is encrypted with a Public Key may

only be decrypted by its corresponding Private Key and vice

versa.

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For example, if Bob wants to send sensitive data to Alice, and

wants to be sure that only Alice may be able to read it, he will

encrypt the data with Alice's Public Key. Only Alice has access to

her corresponding Private Key and as a result is the only person

with the capability of decrypting the encrypted data back into its

original form.

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