Private Key vs. Public Key: What’s the difference?

If you are new to cryptocurrency, you may have heard the terms private key, and the public key thrown around but do not know what they mean or why they matter. A private key and public key together make up your cryptocurrency wallet. Here’s everything you need to know about them and how they are related.

Main Difference

A private key is a piece of code that is used to decrypt data that has been encrypted with a public key. A public key is a piece of code that is used to encrypt data. The two keys are related, but the private key cannot be derived from the public key.


Private keys are kept secret, while public keys can be shared. When data is encrypted with a public key, it can only be decrypted with the corresponding private key. This means that anyone can encrypt data, but only the owner of the private key can decrypt it.

Private keys are typically generated by software on the user’s computer, and they are usually stored in a file or database. Public keys, on the other hand, are often distributed through a website or service.


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What is the Public key?

A public key is like an email address. It’s something you give out to people who want to communicate with you. But unlike an email address, a public key can’t be used to send you a message directly. Instead, it’s used to encrypt a message that your private key can only decrypt.

A public key is a number that anyone can look up online. Anyone who knows your public key can encrypt messages for you. To decrypt them, you need your private key.

What is the Private key?

A private key is a piece of data that allows you to access your cryptocurrencies. It is also used to sign transactions, providing mathematical proof that they come from the owner of the address. Private keys are kept secret and should never be shared with anyone. If someone gets access to your private key, they can use it to steal your funds.

A private key is a secret number that only you know. You use it to encrypt data. When you send someone a message, you encrypt it using their public key. Only they have access to decrypt it.

Differences between Private Key and Public Key

A public key is a cryptographic key pair consisting of two keys: a private key (also known as a secret key) and a corresponding public key. A public key may be shared publicly, while the private key remains secret. In cryptography, the term public key refers to a mathematical object encodes information using a particular algorithm. In contrast, private key refers to a mathematical construct that encodes information using another algorithm.

  1. The difference between a public key and a private key is that the public key can be freely distributed, while the private key cannot.
  2. If Alice wants to send Bob a message encrypted with her public key, then anyone who knows Alice’s public key can decrypt the message. However, if Alice wanted to send Bob a message that only he could read, she would use her private key to encrypt the message. Only someone who possesses Alice’s private key can decrypt the message and make sense of its contents.
  3. In asymmetric encryption, the sender uses a public key to encrypt a plaintext message, and the recipient uses the same public key to decrypt the ciphertext. Asymmetric encryption is widely used in digital signatures, where the signature is verified using the recipient’s private key.
  4. Public-key cryptosystems are based on the difficulty of solving specific problems involving discrete logarithms. These problems are generally considered intractable, requiring an impractical amount of time and computational power. Therefore, no practical method exists for factoring integers larger than 2¹⁶.
  5. A private-key cryptosystem is based on the difficulty of finding discrete logs. Discrete logs are similar to integer factorization, except that instead of finding factors of composite numbers, we try to find smaller values that multiply to some given value. Finding discrete logs is much easier than factoring integers since the former does not have any restrictions on the size of the input.

Secure your Private Keys: Private Key vs. Public Key

Your private keys are what give you access to your cryptocurrencies. They are stored in a digital wallet and should never be shared with anyone. Your public key is derived from your private key and is used to send payments. Anyone can see your public key, but only you have access to your private key. Keep your private keys safe and secure to ensure that only you can access your cryptocurrencies. Always make sure to securely back up your private keys on an offline storage device like a USB drive or CD-ROM. You could also print out your key on paper and keep it somewhere safe!

Wallet Address: Private Key vs. Public Key

If you’re new to cryptocurrency, you may have heard of terms like wallet address, public key, and private key. But what do they mean? Let’s break it down. The difference between these two types of keys is that one is for encryption, and the other is for decryption.

  • A wallet address (public key) is used to encrypt data so that only someone with access to the corresponding private key can decrypt it. For example, if you wanted to send an encrypted message from your computer over email but didn’t want anyone else to read it, you would create a public/private key pair on your computer using software such as GPG Suite or Microsoft Windows 10 Mail app. You would then put the public key in your email and write instructions for who should be able to decrypt it in the body of the email.
  • Whoever has access to your private key will be able to open up your encrypted message! Just because there are differences between public and private keys doesn’t mean they are separate entities. The same person will typically hold public and private keys; this person is known as their owner.
  • So how does this work exactly? Each transaction creates a signature that points back to both parties’ public keys. Each party needs to sign off on the transfer with their private key, which makes them responsible for the transferred funds. When Alice wants to transfer $5 worth of bitcoin to Bob, she needs Bob’s public key to know where her money is going. After Alice has signed off on her end of the deal by entering her private key into the equation, Bob gets his $5 worth of bitcoin after verifying that he is authorized by entering his private signature and confirming with his private key.

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In cryptography, a private key is a piece of data that allows you to access encrypted information or perform digital transactions. A public key is available to everyone and is used to encrypt the information or verify digital transactions. Private keys are always kept secret, while public keys can be distributed widely. When it comes to Bitcoin, your private key is your wallet address. Anyone who has your private key can access your Bitcoin.