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A cryptographic key is:


There are several types of cryptographic keys that may be used in a CKM system: symmetric keys (e.g., one key used for both encryption and decryption), asymmetric public keys (the public component of a public-private key pair), and asymmetric private keys (the private component of a public-private key pair).

Keys are further classified by their life-time: ephemeral keys, which have a short life-time and are usually used only once; and static or long-term keys, which have a longer lifetime and are usually used multiple times.


  1. NIST, Electronic Authentication Guideline (NIST Special Publication 800-63) (Apr. 2006) (full-text).
  2. NIST FIPS 201; NIST FIPS 198.
  3. NIST, FIPS 140-2.

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