Exploring RSA Encryption

Thursday, 6 March 2003, 4:18 PM EST

In contrast to the cooperative preparations required for setting up private key encryption, such as secret-sharing and close coordination between sender and receiver, you can act entirely on your own to create and publish two numbers that enable anyone, using the RSA encryption formula, to send a private message to you through a public channel. The message becomes "First Class" e-mail, so to speak, as if sealed in an envelope. Using the two numbers you have published, anyone can scramble a message and send it to you. You are the only one who can unscramble it--not even the sender of the message can decrypt the ciphertext.

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