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RSA Laboratories What happens if my key is lost?

If your private key is lost or destroyed but not compromised, you can no longer sign or decrypt messages, but anything previously signed with the lost key is still valid. The CA (see Question must be notified immediately so that the key can be revoked and placed on a certificate revocation list (see Question to prevent any illegitimate use if the key is found or recovered by an adversary. Loss of a private key can happen, for example, if you lose the smart card used to store your key, or if the disk on which the key is stored is damaged. You should also obtain a new key right away to minimize the number of messages people send you that are encrypted under your old key, since these can no longer be read.

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