session key

A session key is an encryption and decryption key that is randomly generated to ensure the security of a communications session between a user and another computer or between two computers. Session keys are sometimes called symmetric keys, because the same key is used for both encryption and decryption. A session key may be derived from a hash value, using the CryptDeriveKey function (this method is called a session-key derivation scheme). Throughout each session, the key is transmitted along with each message and is encrypted with the recipient's public key. Because much of their security relies upon the brevity of their use, session keys are changed frequently. A different session key may be used for each message.

This was last updated in September 2005

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