Your Status keys are essential in securing and authenticating your communication and transactions. Unlike centralized services that store usernames and passwords on servers, Status uses cryptographic keys for authentication and authorization.
Using cryptographic keys, Status gives you complete control over your data. You don't need any personally identifiable information (like your email or phone number) to create a Status profile, and your information is never shared or stored with third parties.
When you create a new Status profile, the Status app generates a public and a private cryptographic key (a key pair). In essence, these keys are large strings of characters securely stored on your device and protected by your Status password.
The Status app uses your private key to sign and encrypt your messages, making sure that only the intended recipient can read them and that no one can tamper with them. You should never share your private key.
Your public key is paired with your private key and identifies your Status profile and Status wallet address. For this reason, you can freely share your public key without worry. While anyone can send you a message or a crypto transaction to your public key, you need your private key to confirm you're the intended recipient.
Public and private keys function similarly to doors and keys in the physical world. Door keys are private and personal, but the door is public and visible to everyone.
A recovery phrase (also known as a seed phrase or backup phrase) is a set of words that can be used to regenerate your private key. If you lose or damage your device, you can restore access to your Status data and wallet funds using your recovery phrase on a new device.
Because your recovery phrase can be used to regenerate your private key, you must keep your recovery phrase words always secure.
The Status app generates the first key pair (public and private keys) when you create a new Status profile. From this master key pair, the app makes additional key pairs, such as the chat key and wallet address, which look similar but have different purposes.
Your chat key is a long hexadecimal string (a hash code) part of your public Status profile. You share your chat key when you add a contact to start a conversation. You can also connect your chat key with an ENS username, like alice.eth or alice.stateofus.eth.
Your wallet address is a shortened form of your public key. This address is public and can be used to receive crypto. Some content creators and organizations show this address publicly on their websites to receive funds.