A public key, often referred to as an address in the context of cryptocurrencies, is a cryptographic identifier used for receiving transactions on a blockchain network. It is derived from a private key and can be shared publicly without risking the associated funds.
"A Bitcoin Cash address, such as
bitcoincash:qzmm5ffsl4x29wg50sn7rushcz4gxqpcas5f24432c, is an example of a public key. The 'bitcoincash:' prefix indicates the blockchain network it belongs to."
While sharing a public key does not risk the associated funds, reusing the same key for multiple transactions can compromise the user's privacy. Therefore, it's advisable to use wallets that generate a new address for each transaction.
"To maintain privacy, it's a good practice to use a new address for each transaction. Many wallets automatically generate a new address for each transaction to help preserve your privacy."
Public keys are used in various scenarios, such as receiving payments, verifying the sender of a message, and participating in public blockchain operations.
"At the bottom of this page are three public keys (addresses) for donation wallets we control. Anyone can send us donations through them."
Despite being public, the security of a blockchain network relies on the computational impracticality of deriving the private key from its corresponding public key.
"The security of blockchain networks relies on the fact that, even though the public key is known, it's computationally impractical to derive the private key from it."
* All terms and definitions may update as the Cryptionary improves.