How keys are used in Cardano

Keys are asymmetric cryptography key pairs that are used for:

  • Signing and validating payments and staking certificates

  • Identifying and defining addresses on the Cardano blockchain.

Types of keys

There are two main type of keys:

Node keys

Node keys represent the security of the blockchain and consist of the following keys:

  • Operator/operational key, operator’s offline key pair with cert counter for new certificates.

  • Hot KES key, operator’s hot KES key pair.

  • Block signing key, operational VRF key pair, it participates in the right to create and sign the block for the specific slot.

Address keys

Address keys represent the functions of the addresses derived from the keys for identifying funds on the blockchain that consist of the following keys:

Payment key, single address key pair usually used for generating UtxO addresses. Staking key, stake/reward address key pair usually used for generating account/reward addresses.