What is Private Key Encryption?

In an age where breaches occur daily, businesses need to protect confidential information including customer data, intellectual property, research and development, future business plans, and all sorts of other information. Confidential information needs to be secured at rest, as well as when it is exchanged between employees, executives, partners, and others, via phone call, text message or email. Data is secured in many different ways, one of which is private key encryption. What, exactly, is private key encryption?


Encryption has been around for centuries. Encryption is the process of transforming information into a form that is unreadable by anyone other than those the information is intended for.  It has long been used by the military and governments to protect communications.

In today’s world, we use encryption to protect a variety of data, both in transit and at rest. It is used to protect home Wi-Fi networks, mobile telephones, ATM machines, secure websites and a slew of other devices and services.

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Encryption makes use of an algorithm (also called a cipher) to transform information into an unreadable format and requiring a “key” to decrypt the data into its original, readable format.  A key for electronic/digitally encrypted information is really just bits of code that use an algorithm to lock and unlock information.

Public and Private Keys

Public and private keys refer to the ‘keys’ used to encrypt and decrypt information. A public key is available to many, and made available in an online directory. A private key is private, and only made available to the originator of the encrypted content, and those it is shared with.

Private Key Encryption

Private key encryption is the form of encryption where only a single private key can encrypt and decrypt information. It is a fast process since it uses a single key. However, protecting one key creates a key management issue when everyone is using private keys. The private key may be stolen or leaked. Key management requires prevention of these risks and necessitates changing the encryption key often, and appropriately distributing  the key.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

In contrast to private key encryption, Public Key Infrastructure, commonly referred to as PKI, uses two keys – one private and one public. The public key is distributed, whereas the private key is never shared.

Across the web, PKI is extremely common. For example, when you make an online purchase, you are using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt the web session between yourself and the site. This type of method makes use of PKI.

Private encryption is more commonly used to protect – and access – data stores, such as disk drives, confidential information and the like.

Not long ago, encryption was used exclusively to protect the information of generals, diplomats and governments. Now, all of us are accessing data sources, transferring information over the Internet, storing and accessing confidential information, sometimes on the go, sometime remotely. Encryption allows us to conduct our online business securely.

KoolSpan TrustCall utilizes PKI to secure mobile phone calls and text messages – ensuring your confidential information is always encrypted and remains secure and private. Looking for more information? Contact KoolSpan about TrustCall.