What distinguishes a public key from a private key?

In the realm of cryptocurrencies, both public and private keys play pivotal roles, but they serve different purposes:

  • Public Key: This is akin to an address that others can see and use to send you cryptocurrency. Think of it as your email address; you can share it with anyone who wants to send you a message (or in this case, cryptocurrency). It's generated from a cryptographic algorithm and is always paired with a unique private key.
  • Private Key: This is your secret code, allowing you to access and manage the funds in your wallet. It's essential to keep this key confidential. Using our earlier analogy, if the public key is your email address, the private key is your email password. Only with this "password" can you open, read, and send messages (or spend your cryptocurrency).

In simpler terms, while you can freely share your public key (like a bank account number for receiving funds), your private key should remain confidential (like a PIN code) to ensure the security of your assets.