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An asymmetric cipher is an encryption scheme using a pair of keys, one to encrypt and a second to decrypt a message. This way the encrypting key need not be kept secret to ensure a private communication. Similarly in public key authentication, the verification key can be public and the signing key private.

An asymmetric cipher is an encryption scheme using a pair of keys, one to encrypt and a second to decrypt a message. This way the encrypting key need not be kept secret to ensure a private communication. Similarly in public key authentication, the verification key can be public and the signing key private.

Public key cryptography describes all cryptographic algorithms which have a pair of keys, one key that performs encryption and one key that performs decryption. One of these keys is made available publicly, allowing anyone to send messages that only the holder of the private key can read. You should use this tag for questions on any such system, for example RSA or Elliptic Curve Cryptography.

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