What is asymmetric encryption?

Asymmetric encryption, or public-key cryptography, is an encryption method that requires two keys to access a server: a public key for encryption, and a matching private key for decryption. Asymmetric encryption is also known as public-key cryptography.

How does asymmetric encryption work?

Asymmetric encryption is commonly used on the internet as a means of privately communicating without either party necessarily knowing the other’s private encryption key in advance. Anyone can encrypt a message using the receiver’s public key, but only the receiver can decrypt it.

Asymmetric encryption is more computationally intensive than symmetric encryption. For this reason, it’s often used to establish a “handshake” wherein a private key is exchanged between the sender and receiver. That private key, known by both parties, is then used to communicate using symmetric encryption. This process is commonly used when visiting sites that have “https” at the beginning of their URL.

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