Friday, January 21, 2005, 1:47 AM

The Best Secrets Are Never Shared

If the best secrets are never shared, what good are they?

Well, not much. .. except ...

There is a class of information that can be perfect secrets and still be useful -- Private keys are the only secrets that we know of that we can (a) avoid sharing, and, (b) usefully deploy. The holder of the private key can prove that he or she has it without sharing it. No other types of knowledge are useful if they are kept perfect secrets.

This is why public key cryptography is such an important concept in digital security. PKC is the only authentication mechanism we know of that can potentially employ (theoretically) perfect secrets. One could therefore argue that a correctly implemented PKC authentication system is harder to break (digitally) then any other known authentication system.

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