A private key is an alphanumerical series of characters that can thought of as the password to your digital goods and tokens in your wallet. It is the key that unlocks your assets and the mechanism in web3 that grants you ownership of the assets that belong to you. Just as with a password, one must keep their private key hidden from the public and stored away from anything that connects to the internet (i.e. written down on a piece of paper and stored in a safe). If anyone ever comes into the possession of your private key, they can (and will) steal your goods.

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