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Public key

A public key is a type of encryption key that is used in asymmetric encryption algorithms. Asymmetric encryption algorithms use a pair of keys for encryption and decryption: one key, known as the public key, is used to encrypt the message, while the other key, known as the private key, is used to decrypt it.

The public key can be shared with anyone, as it is used to encrypt the message. It is not possible to use the public key to decrypt the message, as it is designed to work only in conjunction with the private key. This means that the public key can be shared widely without compromising the security of the encrypted message.

The private key, on the other hand, must be kept secret and is used to decrypt the message. It is important to protect the private key, as anyone who has access to it can decrypt the message.

Public keys are typically used in situations where the sender and the recipient do not have a shared secret key, such as in secure communication over the internet. They are also used for digital signatures, as they allow the recipient to verify the authenticity of the message and the sender.

Examples of algorithms that use public keys include the RSA algorithm and the Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) algorithm.