I have searched and searched but cannot locate an answer to my question so I am hoping the experts here can.
When I read about symmetric encryption like AES I see mention of the key and key size such as 256 bit keys. When I code in PHP and use AES I provide a secret or paraphrase. Is the secret that I provide the key?
If so, does the secret which is basically a string in coding terms need to be 256 bits long?