Public-key cryptography

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Public-key cryptography is a cryptographic approach which involves the use of asymmetric key algorithms instead of or in addition to symmetric key algorithms. Unlike symmetric key algorithms, it does not require a secure initial exchange of one or more secret keys to both sender and receiver. The asymmetric key algorithms are used to create a mathematically related key pair: a secret private key and a published public key. Use of these keys allows protection of the authenticity of a message by creating a digital signature of a message using the private key, which can be verified using the public key. It also allows protection of the confidentiality and integrity of a message, by public key encryption, encrypting the message using the public key, which can only be decrypted using the private key.

Public key cryptography is a fundamental and widely used technology around the world. It is the approach which is employed by many cryptographic algorithms and cryptosystems. It underpins such Internet standards as Transport Layer Security (TLS) (successor to SSL), PGP, and GPG.

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