How-To Geek

Public-key Cryptography

In a public-key cryptographic scheme, there are two distinct keys used to encrypt and decrypt data. The public key is used to encrypt data for the recipient and then the recipient’s private key is used to decrypt it. Thus if someone wanted to send a secure email message to Bill Gates via the widely used Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) email encryption program, they could look up Mr. Gates’ public key on a public key server, use that key to encrypt his message, and then only he could turn around and use his private key to decrypt it.

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