key pair

Definition of key pair in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Key Pair?

The public and private keys generated for an entity (individual, system, company, or organization) in a public key cryptography system. Such systems always generate keys in pairs. The private key belongs to the user alone and is kept secret. The public key is available to anyone who requests it.

If a message is encrypted with the private key, it can be decrypted using the public key, and vice versa. This is possible because the private and public keys have a specific mathematical relationship.


You can use the Certificate Manager component of Internet Information Services (IIS) to generate a key request file. You can then submit the file to a server running Microsoft Certificate Server or to a public certificate authority (CA) such as VeriSign to obtain a key pair and a digital certificate. Once the key pair has been issued to a user, the user can encrypt messages and sign the messages with digital signatures.