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Symmetric Encryption and Asymmetric Encryption This lesson covers the two main encryption types: symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption is when the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt. When using symmetric encryption, you must be able to trust the other party and find a way to get them the pre-shared key. Symmetric encryption is also good for non-repudiation. Asymmetric encryption differs from symmetric encryption in that it has a public key and a private key. The public key is the one which is widely distributed and given out to whomever needs it and is used to publicly encrypt data. However, the private key is secret and yours alone and is used to decrypt data.