Key Pairs

Amazon EC2 uses public-key cryptography to encrypt and decrypt login information. Public-key cryptography uses a public key to encrypt a piece of data, such as a password, then you use the private key to decrypt the data. The public and private keys are known as a key pair.

To log on to your instance, you must create a key pair, specify the name of the key pair when you launch the instance, and provide the private key when you connect to the instance. Linux instances have no password, and you use a key pair to log on using SSH.

If you create a key pair in one region, you cannot see or use that key pair in another region. In other words, you cannot share key pairs between regions. Using a third-party tool, however, you can create your own key pair to use in all regions and then import the public key to Amazon EC2.
Amazon EC2 stores only the public key; you store the private key. Anyone who possesses your private key can decrypt your login information, so be sure to store your private keys in a secure place.

For more information, see Amazon User Guide for Linux Instances.

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