What Is a Cryptographic Key? [Explained]

Cryptography is the study or practice of secure communication techniques. And a key in cryptography, simply known as a Cryptographic Key is a string of bits, codes, numbers, or letters that is used by a cryptographic algorithm. 

These bits are stored in a file and when it is processed through the cryptographic algorithm, it can encode or decode cryptographic data.

Here in this article, we will go into more detail on what a cryptographic key is and what it does.

What Is a Cryptographic Key

What Does Cryptographic Key Mean?

Think of it like any other key. What does a key do? It locks or secures something or it can let something out. A cryptographic key does that same thing in form of encrypting and decrypting computer-based data or information. So, a cryptographic key is a string of data that when processed through a cryptographic algorithm, encodes or decodes cryptographic data.

The core part of a cryptographic operation is a cryptographic key. Pairs of operations such as encryption and decryption are included in most cryptographic systems. It is the most vital piece of data that needs to be kept secret at all times. The whole security of a properly designed cryptographic algorithm depends on the security of the cryptographic key.

What Is the Use of a Cryptographic Key?

When plain text is sent through a cryptographic algorithm, it is encrypted and converted into cipher text. That cipher text is decrypted and converted into plain text again when received by the other end.

This process is not secured until a cryptographic key is inside the mix. A cryptographic key is entered when encrypting the plain text into cipher text. The same key is entered again when decrypting the cipher text into plain text.

The encrypt and decrypted data are also known as public and private data respectively. This is because the encrypted data is always accessible, but when that data goes through the cryptographic process, it becomes private data and is then sent to the receiver. The cryptographic key secures this process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a cryptographic key a password?

No, a cryptographic key is what protects the password itself.

How cryptographic keys are stored?

The cryptographic key is created and stored in the key management server.


In conclusion, a cryptographic key protects data when encrypting and decrypting. It is the most important thing in a cryptographic operation. We hope we were able to help you understand what a cryptographic key means. If you

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