Definition

public key

In cryptography, a public key is a value provided by a designated authority as an encryption key. A system for using public keys is called a public key infrastructure (PKI). The Public-Key Cryptography Standards (PKCS) are a set of intervendor standard protocols for making possible secure information exchange on the Internet using a public key infrastructure (PKI).

When combined with a private key that is mathematically linked to the public key, messages and digital signatures can be effectively encrypted. The use of combined public and private keys is known as asymmetric cryptography.

This was last updated in October 2006

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