Summary
In cryptography, a shared secret is a piece of data, known only to the parties involved, in a secure communication. This usually refers to the key of a symmetric cryptosystem. The shared secret can be a password, a passphrase, a big number, or an array of randomly chosen bytes. The shared secret is either shared beforehand between the communicating parties, in which case it can also be called a pre-shared key, or it is created at the start of the communication session by using a key-agreement protocol, for instance using public-key cryptography such as Diffie–Hellman or using symmetric-key cryptography such as Kerberos. The shared secret can be used for authentication (for instance when logging into a remote system) using methods such as challenge–response or it can be fed to a key derivation function to produce one or more keys to use for encryption and/or MACing of messages. To make unique session and message keys the shared secret is usually combined with an initialization vector (IV). An example of this is the derived unique key per transaction method. It is also often used as an authentication measure in web APIs.
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Cryptography
Cryptography, or cryptology (from κρυπτός "hidden, secret"; and γράφειν graphein, "to write", or -λογία -logia, "study", respectively), is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of adversarial behavior. More generally, cryptography is about constructing and analyzing protocols that prevent third parties or the public from reading private messages. Modern cryptography exists at the intersection of the disciplines of mathematics, computer science, information security, electrical engineering, digital signal processing, physics, and others.
Key-agreement protocol
In cryptography, a key-agreement protocol is a protocol whereby two or more parties can agree on a cryptographic key in such a way that both influence the outcome. If properly done, this precludes undesired third parties from forcing a key choice on the agreeing parties. Protocols that are useful in practice also do not reveal to any eavesdropping party what key has been agreed upon. Many key exchange systems have one party generate the key, and simply send that key to the other party—the other party has no influence on the key.
Shared secret
In cryptography, a shared secret is a piece of data, known only to the parties involved, in a secure communication. This usually refers to the key of a symmetric cryptosystem. The shared secret can be a password, a passphrase, a big number, or an array of randomly chosen bytes. The shared secret is either shared beforehand between the communicating parties, in which case it can also be called a pre-shared key, or it is created at the start of the communication session by using a key-agreement protocol, for instance using public-key cryptography such as Diffie–Hellman or using symmetric-key cryptography such as Kerberos.
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