Prime Numbers in Public Key Cryptography

By Gerald Crow

The use of public-key cryptography is pervasive in the information protection and privacy arenas. Public key crypto algorithms utilize prime numbers extensively; indeed, prime numbers are an essential part of the major public key systems. This paper provides an introduction to prime numbers and how they are chosen, identified and used in public key systems. The content of this paper is specifically targeted at an audience that has only basic mathematical knowledge. A reader who has taken a high school or college algebra class should be able to follow the math herein.

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