The key is the key

Until the 1970s, all publicly known encryption schemes were symmetric: the recipient of an encrypted message would use the same secret key to unscramble the message that the sender had used to scramble it. But that all changed with the invention of asymmetric encryption schemes. These were schemes in which the key to decrypt a message (known as the private key) was different from the key needed to encrypt it (known as the public key)—and there was no practical way for someone who only had the public key to figure out the private key.

Timothy B. Lee | Ars Technica

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