Encryption Essentials: A PGP Quick-Start Guide

    Date11 Oct 2001
    CategoryCryptography
    3333
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    The intent of this document is to provide the new PGP user with enough information to effectively use PGP. This is just a primer; for more information, check the PGP help file and manual or see the Resources list at the . . . The intent of this document is to provide the new PGP user with enough information to effectively use PGP. This is just a primer; for more information, check the PGP help file and manual or see the Resources list at the end of this article. I recommend reading these at the first opportunity; cryptographic applications are much safer when used by informed users who understand the basic concepts. The documentation is readable and provides a good introduction to general cryptographic concepts.

    PGP puts your email or files in a digital envelope that only the intended recipient with a copy of PGP can decipher. Anybody else sees a random-looking sequence of ASCII characters. This process of encryption allows you to open digital envelopes encrypted to your public key. This is the reverse of the decryption process.

    Many products have "secure" modes that allegedly provide secure information storage and transmission. Unfortunately, most of those products are susceptible to "password cracker" programs readily available at various Internet sites either in freeware form, often aimed at the black-hat community, or as commercial ware marketed to corporate help desks who help their users figure out the passwords they forgot. Law enforcement uses password-crackerprograms, too. If your "secure" product is one that can be cracked this way, it isn't secure.

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