checked couple of online options which says 3DES is symmetric encryption(which means a single key is shared between two to encryption and decryption)

but I have seen many EDI production system(AS2 setups) which uses 3DES encryption though we use the public key of the receiver to encrypt (asymmetric encryption - public key and private key pair). How 3DES is used for these set ups ? or there is some misnomer with the term "symmetric" in 3DES?

  • it can use a public key exchange to get the symmetric key established.
    – dandavis
    Sep 9, 2016 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


3DES is symmetric encryption, always. This means that the same key is used for encryption and decryption and that thus both sender and recipient need to know this key. But it might be used together with asymmetric encryption.

Asymmetric encryption is often used to share the common key then used for the symmetric encryption in a secure way. A typical example is PGP, where (simplified) a random key gets generated, this key gets encrypted with the public key of the recipient (asymmetric) and then the message gets encrypted with the generated key (symmetric). The recipient then can extract the symmetric key using its private key and then decrypt the message using this symmetric key.

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