A private key is
|“||[t]he secret part of an asymmetric key pair that is typically used to digitally sign or decrypt data.||”|
|“||a cryptographic key, used with a public key cryptographic algorithm, that is uniquely associated with an entity and is not made public. In an asymmetric (public) cryptosystem, the private key is associated with a public key. Depending on the algorithm, the private key may be used to —||”|
For digital signatures, the private key is uniquely associated with the owner and is not made public. The private key is used to compute a digital signature that may be verified using the corresponding public key.
- "Overview" section: FIPS 186-3, at 4.