Pretty Good Privacy
Symmetric cryptography—Alice wants to send Bob a message. They both agree on a single password to use as an encryption/decryption key. Alice can use that password to encrypt data to send to Bob, and Bob can use that password to decrypt messages received from Alice.
Symmetric cryptography has a number of disadvantages:
- At the very beginning, when Alice and Bob initially exchanged the key, the key exchange could have been transparently intercepted by a third party (assume Alice and Bob were not using a secure channel because that is precisely what we are trying to build!).
- For a group of n people to communicate privately, the number of unique keys is polynomial:
# people # keys 2 1 3 3 4 6 5 10 6 15 n n(n-1)/2