Crypto.PublicKey package

In a public key cryptography system, senders and receivers do not use the same key. Instead, the system defines a key pair, with one of the keys being confidential (private) and the other not (public).


Sender uses..

Receiver uses…


Public key

Private key


Private key

Public key

Unlike keys meant for symmetric cipher algorithms (typically just random bit strings), keys for public key algorithms have very specific properties. This module collects all methods to generate, validate, store and retrieve public keys.

API principles

Asymmetric keys are represented by Python objects. Each object can be either a private key or a public key (the method has_private() can be used to distinguish them).

A key object can be created in four ways:

  1. generate() at the module level (e.g. Crypto.PublicKey.RSA.generate()). The key is randomly created each time.

  2. import_key() at the module level (e.g. Crypto.PublicKey.RSA.import_key()). The key is loaded from memory.

  3. construct() at the module level (e.g. Crypto.PublicKey.RSA.construct()). The key will be built from a set of sub-components.

  4. publickey() at the object level (e.g. Crypto.PublicKey.RSA.RsaKey.publickey()). The key will be the public key matching the given object.

A key object can be serialized via its export_key() method.

Keys objects can be compared via the usual operators == and != (note that the two halves of the same key, private and public, are considered as two different keys).

Available key types

Obsolete key type