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What's the difference between public and private keys?

Modified on Mon, 12 Feb 2024 at 04:36 PM

In the world of cryptocurrency, the concepts of public and private keys form the backbone of security and ownership. For beginners, grasping these terms might seem akin to navigating a new language. Fear not – we will break down the basics in a way that everyone can understand, using a familiar analogy: your bank account and PIN.


Public Key: Your Cryptocurrency Address (Bank Account Number)


Think of your public key as the equivalent of your bank account number. This is the information you share openly with others to receive funds. It's like giving someone your account number so they can transfer money into your account. In the crypto world, we often refer to this as your "cryptocurrency address."


Private Key: Your Secret Code (PIN)


Let's talk about your private key – the hidden gem in your crypto universe. This is your secret code, comparable to the PIN you use at the ATM. Just as you guard your PIN, you must protect your private key. It's the key to your crypto kingdom.


Your private key allows you to access and manage the funds sent to your public key. It's like using your PIN to withdraw money from your bank account. Only this time, it's all happening in the digital realm. Losing or exposing your private key is like misplacing your PIN – it could lead to someone accessing your funds without your permission.


Putting It All Together: A Safe and Secure Crypto Wallet


Now, think of your crypto wallet as a high-tech version of your wallet or purse. Inside, you have your public key (cryptocurrency address) which is visible to anyone– just like your bank account number on a check. But,tucked away, out of sight and reach, is your private key – the secret code ensuring only you can access and control your funds.

 

Remember, sharing your public key is like giving someone your mailing address, but revealing your private key is like handing over the keys to your mailbox. Keep your private key safe, and your crypto adventures will be secure.

 

When it comes to keeping your private key safe, there are two avenues you can take – the custodial and the non-custodial one. You can learn more about the pros and cons of both approaches here

 

In summary, public keys are intended for receiving funds, much like a bank account number. Private keys, on the other hand, are your secret codes, comparable to the PIN for accessing and controlling your cryptocurrency funds. Understanding and safeguarding these keys is your passport to a secure and thriving crypto experience.

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