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Asymmetric algorithms use a pair
of keys -- one key to encrypt data and a different key to decrypt the
data. This type of cryptographic system is known as a public/private
key system, because it involves the use of a public key that
is distributed to others, and a private key whose confidentiality is
guarded carefully by the owner of the key pair. Typically at least
one public/private key pair is issued to each user, and a user will
have access to only one private key (their own), and potentially many
dozens, hundreds or even thousands of public keys (belonging to others,
which they use when communicating with those other users).
An asymmetric algorithm makes use
of what cryptographers call a trapdoor one-way function.
That is, like a hash, the function that computes the encrypted output
is not reversible using the same key. Unlike a hash, there is another
key which, when applied to the data, will decrypt it. So, unlike with
hashing, it is possible to recover the original documents contents.
Asymmetric algorithms use a pair of keys one key to encrypt the data, and another to decrypt it.
This is known as public/private key encryption, or sometimes just public key encryption, because it involves a public key that is distributed to others and a private key known only to the owner of the key pair.
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CertiGuide for Security+ (http://www.CertiGuide.com/secplus/) on CertiGuide.com
Version 1.0 - Version Date: November 15, 2004
Adapted with permission from a work created by Tcat Houser et al.
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