Ray Odi Ray is an astute crypto writer that loves penning content on cryptos, DeFi and other blockchain-based platforms.

What Is The Difference Between Private Key And Public Key?

2 min read

private key and public key illustration with complex network of keys

Every crypto utilizes a cryptographic mechanism that works with key pairs, which are public key and private key. This system is called public-key cryptography. Public key encryption is a part of the public key cryptography, and it is designed for identification purposes. On the other hand, private key encryption is the secret key, which is designed for authentication purposes. As its name states, it should be kept private because it is a key to decrypt and prove that you are the owner of the account. Encryption and decryption are done by public, private keys.

Public Key Cryptography or PKC is also called asymmetric cryptography. It permits users to use public key to encrypt transactions, which are broadcasted to the blockchain, while the private key is used for decryption.

What is public key and private key with examples?

Public and private keys may be part of the key pairs, but both of them have different purposes.

Public Key

This is one of the two keys, and it permits users to receive crypto transactions. Anyone can send transactions using this key, but only the person with the private key can decrypt the data. Usually, the public key that is allowed to receive crypto transactions is an address, which can be accessed by anyone. A typical crypto address is the short form of the public key. The sender can use the recipient’s public key to transfer crypto to the latter.

Private Key

Out of the two keys, this is the key that should be kept secret by the recipient, and should not be disclosed to anyone, not even the sender.

Every crypto wallet possesses public and private keys that encrypt and decrypt transactions. Private keys are designed to authenticate the ownership of the asset. In a typical wallet, one of the first things that the user comes across when setting it up is the private key, which may be a twelve-word seed phrase. Sometimes, these words may be a combination of the public key, as well as their corresponding private key. 

It is advisable to store your private key in a secure spot to make it easy for you to access your crypto holding. The beauty behind the private key, which may come in the form of a twelve-word seed phrase, is that users can easily restore their wallet even when they misplace the mobile device that stored their wallet.

Let’s say you downloaded Guarda or Trust Wallet, a crypto wallet, it comes with a twelve-word phrase, which represents the private keys. If the owner loses their mobile device, they can easily access their Trust wallet as long as they had stored the private keys safely.

This may come with some benefits, but it also has its downside. What this means is that if an intruder stumbles on your private key, it is easy for them to access your crypto holding, which is one reason these keys should be kept secret.

Is private key secret?

Since the private key offers ownership to its owner, it is advisable that it should be kept secret. With the private key, it is easy to transfer the funds in an address to another address. Private key can’t be gotten from the public key, thereby offering the private key the necessary secrecy that it deserves. The only way a third party can access one’s private key is if the owner discloses their private key to them.

Also read: Private Key Storage Best Practices To Secure Your Bitcoin And Other Cryptocurrencies

Ray Odi Ray is an astute crypto writer that loves penning content on cryptos, DeFi and other blockchain-based platforms.