Asymmetric cryptography, also known as public-key cryptography, is a process that uses a pair of related keys — one public key and one private key — to encrypt and decrypt a message and protect it from unauthorized access or use.
A public key is a cryptographic key that can be used by any person to encrypt a message so that it can only be deciphered by the intended recipient with their private key.
A private key — also known as a secret key — is shared only with a key’s initiator.
When someone wants to send an encrypted message, they can pull the intended recipient’s public key from a public directory and use it to encrypt the message before sending it.
The recipient of the message can then decrypt the message using their related private key.
On the other hand, if the sender encrypts the message using their private key, then the message can be decrypted only using that sender’s public key, thus authenticating the sender.
These encryption and decryption processes happen automatically; users do not need to physically lock and unlock the message.
Increased data security is the primary benefit of asymmetric cryptography. It is the most secure encryption process because users are never required to reveal or share their private keys, thus decreasing the chances of a cybercriminal discovering a user’s private key during transmission.