Private and public keys play an important role in keeping information secure.
It is important to understand the difference between private and public keys. You don’t have to be an expert in the complex cryptography used to create the keys, but it’s beneficial to understand the overarching theory behind their use.
At the very least, you’ll learn a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes when buying, selling, or trading cryptocurrencies, and why it’s essential to keep your private keys private.
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Basics of encryption
Before getting into the discussion of private and public keys, it is important to explain the basic theory behind cryptography as it relates to the creation and use of private and public keys.
Related terms you should know are key, symmetric, and asymmetric.
A cryptographic key is a string of characters used within a cryptographic algorithm to alter data in such a way that it appears random.
Old school ciphers may use substitution ciphers like this:
So A = B, B = C, C = D, etc. In this cipher, both the sender and receiver know to shift the bottom line of characters one space to the left.
The sender starts on the top line, finds the first letter of the message, moves to the corresponding letter on the bottom line, and writes it instead.
For example, if you want to send the word CAT and encrypt it with this cipher, write DBU. Then reverse the process to decode the message. Start with the bottom row and find the corresponding letter in the top row.
This is a very basic example, but it lays the foundation for more complex cryptography.
Symmetric encryption uses one key to encrypt a message (or data) and the same key to decrypt the message.
The simple substitution cipher mentioned earlier is an example of symmetric encryption. It has only one key and shifts the English alphabet one space to the left. Both sender and receiver know what it is.
The problem is that you, the sender, must somehow communicate the key to the recipient so that they can decrypt the message. This creates a variety of security issues, as third parties can intercept your keys, read your messages, and steal your secrets.
That’s where asymmetric encryption comes in.
Asymmetric encryption uses a private/public key pair to encrypt and decrypt data.
Public keys are derived from private keys using complex mathematical algorithms such as Rivest-Shamir-Adelman (RSA), Digital Signature Standard (DSS), Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), and others.
A public key can be publicly distributed so that anyone can use it to send data (in this case, cryptocurrency) to the owner of the public key. Once data is encrypted with the public key, only the private key can decrypt it.
And to understand the complexity of asymmetric encryption, while it is possible to reverse the process and work out the private key from the public key, it takes forever (40 x 10^ 31+ years). Powerful processors are now available.
What is a private key
A private key is a long sequence of letters (both lowercase and uppercase), numbers, and symbols combined in random order to create a password that the owner/owner can use to encrypt and decrypt messages (or data). To do.
For cryptocurrencies, if you know your private key, you can access your crypto wallet and buy, sell, trade, or withdraw anything in it.
The private key provides access to everything, so it’s essential to keep it as private and secure as possible.
If you lose or forget your private key, you will not be able to access your wallet or its funds. Similarly, if you lose or forget your private key, there is no way to help others recover it.
A private key is an example of symmetric encryption. You can also encode data with a private key and send it, but the recipient will need the same private key to decode the data.
This is very similar to the simple substitution cipher mentioned earlier in this article. It can be used to encode a message, but the recipient will also need knowledge of the replacement cipher to decode the message.
How do you send the information “Alphabets shifted one space left” to one person securely without being exploited by hackers or spies?
Asymmetric encryption generates a public key.
What is a public key
Like a private key, a public key is a long sequence of randomized sequences of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols that can be used to create a password that the owner can use to encrypt data. create.
Note that public keys can only be used for: encrypt data — not available decipher data.
As such, public keys are ideal for sharing with others. Once the sender uses their public key to encrypt a message, the only way to decrypt it is with their private key.
Public keys are the fundamental component of asymmetric cryptography and the foundation of all blockchain and cryptocurrency transactions.
How private and public keys work together
Let’s use an example to illustrate how private and public keys work together to enable asymmetric cryptography and cryptocurrency security.
Imagine Jane and Joe wanting to exchange personal data. It could be anything from a text-based message (like “I love you!”) to some kind of cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, NFT, etc.).
Jane uses her private key to generate a public key and sends it to Joe (usually online via email or other digital medium).
Joe uses Jane’s public key to encrypt the data he wants to send to Jane and sends it over the Internet. When Jane receives an encrypted message, she uses a private key known only to her to decrypt the data.
When Jane wants to reply to Joe, she encrypts the message using Joe’s public key and sends it. When Joe receives the message, he uses his private key to decrypt the data.
During this process, it’s entirely possible that someone could access the server that processes the data and attempt to decrypt (or read) the message. However, he is unable to do so because he does not have Jane’s or Joe’s private keys.
For simple text-based messages like “I love you!”, this may not seem so important. is involved, but security becomes very important when Jane and Joe are sending thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrency.
Someone may have access to the server that handles cryptocurrency transfers, but they cannot redirect, steal, or take ownership of your coins or tokens because they do not have the necessary private keys.
Key Differences Between Private and Public Keys
Private and public keys are based on different cryptography.
As mentioned earlier, private keys are based on symmetric encryption, where data is sent between two parties using a single key.
Public key, on the other hand, is based on asymmetric cryptography, where two keys (public and private versions) are used to transmit data between two parties.
The private key can be used for both encryption and decryption (for symmetric encryption), while the public key can only be used for encryption (for asymmetric encryption).
Symmetric encryption with a private key is less complicated than asymmetric encryption with a public key. The difference in complexity makes private keys faster than public keys.
That said, cryptocurrency encoding and decoding is not about speed. It’s about security. As long as the transaction doesn’t take too long to complete, the main concern is keeping the data safe.
Partnering with the right crypto platform
Whether you are new to cryptocurrency or have been using it for a long time, understanding the difference between private and public keys is critical to your success.
But more importantly, partner with the right crypto platform.
Make sure the platform you choose protects your personal information, offers a wide range of cryptocurrency choices, has low transaction fees, offers automation of buying and selling, and makes it easy to execute your plans (no matter how complicated your plans are). even).
It’s also important to partner with a cryptocurrency platform like Binance.US that has all the crypto experience, knowledge and insight.
Binance.US gives you access to all the tools and information you need to make the right decisions and grow your portfolio.
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