Public & Private Keys Explained (Litecoin/Bitcoin)

By now you have most probably already heard of the term Public & Private keys, but what exactly are they and more to the point what do they even do?

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By now you have most probably heard of the terms public and private keys. But what exactly are they and well more to the point what they actually do?

Well to put it simply they are very sophisticated cryptography and one of the most important aspect of cryptocurrency in terms of user security. A lot of people described them being keys they actually tend to look a lot more like this. In essence these keys both send and receive transactions.

We can imagine a public key as being the location of a post box. Anyone can put that is into that post box, but they cannot get them back out. Instead the postman who owned the private key has to come along and open the post box in order to retrieve the letters. This is similar to how a litecoin address works. The public key is usually shown in the form of a litecoin address which is a random assortment of upper and lower case letters along with numbers from anywhere between 30 and 34 characters in length and starting with the letter L. Now you or I can send Litecoins to this address but we cannot retrieve them. Just like we can’t take letters out of the post box without the key. Only the owner of this address which has the corresponding private key is allowed to take the money out and spend it.

So just note that if at any point you in this case the postman there shares his private key with anyone the coins in this metaphorical postbox risk being stolen. In fact, this very thing happened live on television to Matt Miller when he accidentally showed off his private key from a paper wallet. Within seconds somebody watching took the coins out of his wallet and into their own. Luckily, for Matt however, they did offer to attend to a new address. What a guy.

Okay, so someone can steal a private key. How do I keep mine secure then? Well fear not Matt was using a paper wallet which actually has a privately printed directly onto it. While paper wallets are great, flash them about in public isn't such a good idea just like you shouldn't be flashing your real-world wallet around in public please, don't do that.

If however, you use a hardware wallet and you have it pass-phrase protected so these are willing to try on your computer, phone or whatever device you prefer to use, then it can prove incredibly difficult to introduce to gain access to a private keys, as we need both physical access to the device, and your passphrase.

Ok, so this is all well and good but what's stopping people from just guessing a private key you might recall the password? If it's just numbers and letters. Well, private keys are generated alongside the public key when you set up a wallet for the first time. So each is wholly unique and no one has ever seen or generated that public or private key before. You are the first person. Private keys are 51 characters in length and made random assortment of upper and lower case letters along with numbers. What this means is that anyone attempting to break into a wallet by guessing the private key would spend roughly 204 tresvigintillion years trying to crack it. Oh, and by the way, tresvigintillion  that's 10 to the power 72 and it's 204 of those. So, thanks to all this clever technology and mathematics behind cryptocurrency it makes it extreme secure for all of this users. So that was public and private keys explained. If you have any questions or suggestions for you would like to see us cover next please do not hesitate to leave a comment and if you want to get involved you can find is over and Reddit. Stop by and say hello and until next time farewell.

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