Before encryption, a pair of keys (often referred to as a key pair) is generated by some incredibly complex math. These two keys have a special relationship in that any data that’s encrypted using one key can be only be decrypted by using the other key. In this type of encryption, you cannot decrypt using the key that you encrypted with; it must be the other matching key of the pair.
“Asymmetic” refers to the fact that the encryption and decryption keys are different. Contrast that with symmetric encryption, which uses the same key (often a simple password) to both encrypt and decrypt data.
See also encryption, public key.« Back to Glossary Index