Public-key cryptography is a method of cryptography that uses pairs of keys. Public-key cryptography is also known as asymmetric cryptography. Each pair consists of a public key (known to others) and a private key (known only to the key owner). Public-key cryptography uses this pair of mathematically related keys for encryption and decryption. If a public key is used for encryption, the private key must be used for decryption and vice versa. Public-key cryptography is primarily used for authentication and confidentiality. With public-key cryptography, if a message is signed with a private key, any public key holder can verify that the message was sent by the entity (person or group) possessing the corresponding private key. This key pairing can then be combined with a proof of identity system to know what entity owns that private key, providing authentication.
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