What is the distinction between a Public and a Private Key?
In the world of cryptocurrency, the terms "public" and "private key" are crucial concepts. A public key is a unique code that is publicly available and used to identify a specific cryptocurrency wallet. It is often used as a receiving address for transactions. A private key, on the other hand, is a secret code that is used to access and manage the funds in a cryptocurrency wallet. It should be kept confidential and protected.
Unlike a bank account, where the account number is tied to a specific name or debit card, cryptocurrency wallets are identified only by their public key. The private key, which is used to access and manage the funds, is not linked to any personal information and is not publicly accessible. This allows for greater anonymity and security in cryptocurrency transactions.
What exactly is Cryptography?
We use cryptography every day without even realizing it. It forms the backbone of the internet, allowing us to browse safely. The padlock icon that appears in the address bar before "https" is an example of cryptography in action. This icon indicates that the webpage's connection is secure, achieved through the use of public keys to encrypt all data. This encryption is crucial for maintaining internet users' security.
What exactly is a Private Key?
A private key is made up of a series of random numbers and letters generated by an exchange or wallet provider. It stores your crypto, which you may use to send and receive payments. Because of the powerful encryption mechanism used, it is impossible to decipher a private key.
It is critical to keep your private key safe because it might be used as a backup to access your wallet. If you lose the private key, you will be unable to access the wallet and will lose your cryptocurrency!
It is critical that you never share your private key with anyone or on any website!
What exactly is a Public Key?
A wallet has a public key alongside a private key. One of the two keys used to encrypt data is a public key. The private key is used to derive the public key mathematically. Unlike the private key, which must be kept fully private, the public key is intended to be shared with those who wish to send cryptocurrency to your address.
Thus, public keys are derived from private keys. The other way around is not conceivable. Cryptocurrencies solve this problem by generating public keys via a complex mathematical method. The algorithm makes it relatively simple to produce public keys from private keys, but it makes it nearly impossible to do the reverse!
Public and Private Key examples
To make things more concrete, here's an example of both a public and private key:
11GHHa6Q5Jz2dhsNExL567mF43ikXhwF5fKLp Public key
83KHGFGsHeMpn854w5kJNzGWng87GDcd3VjLK5qHFXj5hF Private key
How to keep your Private Key safe
The last thing to remember is that you must keep your private key, seed phrase, or both secret and safe. Write it down and keep it in more than one place, because you can't get it back if you lose it or someone else gets it. Don't take a screenshot or a picture of it with your phone, because hackers often target these digital copies.