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What are crypto Keys? A Detailed Guide for Beginners

17 Sep 2022 By : Divya Behl
Southeast Asia’s Lar

Key Takeaways

  • Cryptography is a method using which communications and values are secured from anyone that is not included in the communication

  • Cryptography keys can be categorized into two main types; public keys and private keys

  • Private keys are a long series of secret numbers that are used to validate the ownership of a blockchain address

  • Private keys should be kept safely within a hardware wallet if you are not planning to swap them any time soon


Cryptocurrencies are becoming an integral part of digital finance and creating an ideal ecosystem for web 3.0. The security that cryptocurrencies have to offer is better than any pre-established mechanisms of storing values. This security mechanism works on the principles of cryptography protocols ensuring that no one other than the stakeholders could read the processes.

Two keys are used in the functioning of cryptography, called crypto keys. In this article, we are going to learn about what are crypto keys and how they function. We will also share some tips with you to keep your crypto keys safe while transacting your cryptocurrencies. 

What are Crypto Keys?

Cryptography is a method using which communications and values are secured from anyone that is not included in the communication channel. This security is maintained using a pair of astronomically long series of characters called cryptographic keys. These cryptographic keys serve as a verification method to complete the requested transactions without the need for any third party

Crypto keys ensure that the communication between the two channels is completely confidential. Apart from confidentiality, cryptographic keys also ensure that no information is altered at any part of the communication or transaction. This creates a sense of trust and reliability amongst the stakeholders. 

Crypto keys are the sole entry point to gain the access to the assets stored in the chain with that particular ownership. Thus keeping them safe is critical for anyone who has cryptocurrencies. Crypto wallets are the most common methods to store your crypto keys. To know more about storing your crypto keys you can refer to our detailed guide on crypto wallets

Types of Crypto Keys

Now as we know what crypto keys are and why they matter, it is time to learn about their classification. Cryptography keys can be categorized into two main types; public keys and private keys. In this segment, we are going to explain them and highlight the differences between the two. 

Public Keys

Public keys are those keys that are derived from your private keys to provide you with a transactional address. Public keys are derived from your private keys but cannot provide you with direct access to your funds. 

Public keys allow the users to receive the cryptocurrencies directly to their crypto wallets. Public keys are generally long strings of alphanumeric characters that are popularly modified into a QR code for conducting seamless transactions. Public keys are also used to verify the digital signatures in the transactions. Validating the ownership of the assets in blockchain requires both private as well as public keys from the user. 

Public keys can be shared with anyone for crypto requests. Sharing a public key does not create any threat to the assets stored in your wallets. Many organizations are already using cryptocurrencies to receive global donations and share their public keys to do so.

Private Keys

Private keys are the real deal when it comes to the security of crypto assets. Private keys are a long series of secret numbers that are used to validate the ownership of a blockchain address. Private keys are completely unique and one cannot withdraw funds from their wallet without having access to their private keys.

Public keys are generated by private keys using a complex mathematical algorithm. These random mathematical algorithms make it impossible for private keys to be guessed by their public keys. Private keys could be really long in their length if they contain only numbers. Thus, alphanumeric characters are used to simplify these keys and make them easier to guard for the users.

Private keys are critical to any crypto user as they contain the authority to access their wallets. If a private key of the user is lost, all of the cryptos stored in their wallets will be locked until the key is found or guessed correctly (which would take thousands of years of constant brute force). 

How to Keep Your Crypto Keys Safe?

The world is realizing the potential of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. At a time when the crypto markets are volatile and people are investing for the long term, keeping your private keys secure is a challenge indeed. This segment of the article will share some of the tips which you can easily follow to ensure that your private keys are secure. 

  • Private keys should be kept safely within a hardware wallet if you are not planning to swap them any time soon

  • Only public keys are required to receive crypto funds thus you do not need to share your private keys with anyone whatsoever

  • Public keys are safe to be shared with someone or even in a public domain to request funds

  • There are multiple kinds of crypto wallets present in the market. Understand the types of crypto wallets before you select one for yourself

  • Never write your private keys on any cloud-based notepad or upload it to cloud storage

  • Always keep your private keys offline and in your own custody. If you don’t own your keys, you don’t own your assets

  • Ensure the security of your seed phrase (backup phrase) and secure a few copies safely with you

Conclusion

Having or not having the access to your private keys could become the difference between having or not having a million dollars. There have been multiple cases in which users were locked out of their crypto wallets only because they could not remember their seed phrases. To avoid this scenario, one must know about the working mechanisms of their keys and develop a relaible method to store them. 

We hope that this article will encourage you to take your crypto keys seriously and pay attention to their security. To read further about crypto key security read our detailed guide on crypto wallets. What according to you is the best method to store your private keys? Share your own mechanism down below in the comments.


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