Exchanging Public Keys

Exchanging public keys is the first step that two users contemplating encrypted communication need to do. Once this has been done, the users can send encrypted and signed data to each other in a straightforward manner.

There are two fundamental ways to obtain each other's public keys:

  • The users can obtain each other's keys in the form of certificates, from a certification authority. This is the most secure way to exchange public keys which does not require user interaction.

  • The users can read their public keys to each other over the phone, use certified mail to send them to each other, or use another method that is reasonably tamperproof. Note that your public key is not secret, so that it doesn't matter if it is overheard by a third party.

This method can also be used to validate the public key values that have been exchanged in some other manner.

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