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Normally, exclusive access to something is managed with usernames and passwords. The public blockchain has no central authority to manage usernames and passwords, so instead it uses cryptography. Each user is able to generate a locker address and a private key code that allows them to unlock the locker. The locker is only an analogy, of course. In reality it’s just an ID number (referred to as an address), which is tagged to a user’s data.

 

The private key is a code that allows the user to prove they’re the creator (or owner) of that address. Only the person who generated the address would have the private key, and no one can ever determine what the private key is from the address alone. So while everyone can see the data tagged with your address in the blockchain, no one is allowed to modify it. It can only be modified by the person who can prove they’re the owner via the private key. For example, if bitcoins are tagged with your address, they cannot be moved (i.e., tagged with another address) unless the private key is used.

What’s also amazing about this system is that anyone can generate an address by themselves, in isolation, without concern that it will clash with anyone else’s address. The reason for this is that there are so many possible addresses, it is essentially impossible to clash with another address, even if you tried.

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