In cryptography, a data key is a key (a variable value that is applied to a string or block of text to encrypt or decrypt it) that is used to encrypt or decrypt data only and is not used to encrypt or decrypt other keys, as some encryption formulas call for.
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Another type of data key is an actual physical object, capable of storing digital information, that is used to store information and required to gain access to the data. An associated program and a mechanism called a key analyser enable the data to be processed by a computer. Some crypto systems require the combined use of a number of data keys belonging to separate individuals, so that data integrity is not reliant upon the trustworthiness of a single person.