Webopedia on Google+Webopedia on TwitterWebopedia on FacebookTech Bytes Blog
Main » TERM » P »

public-key encryption

A cryptographic system that uses two keys -- a public key known to everyone and a private or secret key known only to the recipient of the message. When John wants to send a secure message to Jane, he uses Jane's public key to encrypt the message. Jane then uses her private key to decryptit.

An important element to the public key system is that the public and private keys are related in such a way that only the public key can be used to encrypt messages and only the corresponding private key can be used to decrypt them. Moreover, it is virtually impossible to deduce the private key if you know the public key.

Public-key systems, such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), are becoming popular for transmitting information via the Internet. They are extremely secure and relatively simple to use. The only difficulty with public-key systems is that you need to know the recipient's public key to encrypt a message for him or her. What's needed, therefore, is a global registry of public keys, which is one of the promises of the new LDAPtechnology.

Public key cryptography was invented in 1976 by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman. For this reason, it is sometime called Diffie-Hellman encryption. It is also called asymmetric encryption because it uses two keys instead of one key (symmetric encryption).







TECH RESOURCES FROM OUR PARTNERS
LATEST ARTICLES
What's Hot in Tech: AI Tops the List

Like everything in technology, AI touches on so many other trends, like self-driving cars and automation, and Big Data and the Internet of Things... Read More »

DevOp's Role in Application Security

As organizations rush to release new applications, security appears to be getting short shrift. DevSecOps is a new approach that holds promise. Read More »

Slideshow: Easy Editorial SEO Tips to Boost Traffic

This slideshow reviews five easy on-page editorial SEO tips to help drive organic search engine traffic, including the page title, heading,... Read More »

STUDY GUIDES
Java Basics, Part 1

Java is a high-level programming language. This guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of syntax, variables, data types and... Read More »

Java Basics, Part 2

This second Study Guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of operators, modifiers and control Structures. Read More »

The 7 Layers of the OSI Model

The Open System Interconnection (OSI) model defines a networking framework to implement protocols in seven layers. Use this handy guide to compare... Read More »