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Chapter 13. Cryptography > Public-Key (Asymmetric) Cryptography

Public-Key (Asymmetric) Cryptography

In an asymmetric cryptosystem, shown in Figure 13-2, the encryption key is different from the decryption key. Typically, each participant in a public-key system randomly creates her own pair of keys. Then one member of the pair, called the private key, is kept secret and never revealed to anyone, whereas the other member of the key pair, called the public key, is distributed freely. Either key may be used for encryption or for decryption, but the most important point is that the private key should never be revealed. The best-known public-key cryptosystem is RSA, named after its inventors (Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman). A public-key system is somewhat like a safe with a slot in the top. Anyone can put items into the safe, but only the person who knows the combination can get them out. Table 13-3 shows how public-key cryptography achieves privacy, authentication, integrity, and nonrepudiation.

Figure 13-2. Asymmetric Cryptosystem



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