Pretty good privacy or PGP is a communications tool that permits you to communicate privately at a varying levels of security. PGP, or, more specifically, the OpenPGP standard, is a solid and tested approach of encrypting e-mails before transmission. This added assurance makes it possible to send messages to a recipient without the worry of interception.
Creating a Public and Private Key Using PGP Software
That is because PGP depends on a form of de-coding known as “Public Key Cryptography.” This “key” allows users to cipher and decipher information. In turn, Asymmetric Key Cryptography, also known as Public Key Crytography, allows a message to be sent so the encryption is not captured as well. In order to make this happen, both parties in a conversation must generate key pairs for encryption. Therefore, each party will create and public and private key using PGP software (a one-time event).
The Public Key (Cipher) – Encrypts the Message
The public key is the cipher or the key employed to encrypt the message. Actually, a symmetric session key is generated for message encryption. Therefore, the session key itself is encrypted with the public key and delivered within the message.
The Private Key – Deciphers Messages
The private key, which is mathematically associated with the public key, is used to de-code or decipher the message.
How the Process Works for E-mail Messages
To simplify the above explanation, you can refer to the following outline:
- User A shares their public key with User B.
- User B, in turn, employs the public key to encrypt a message and sends it back to User A.
- User A then employs their private key to decrypt the transmission.
- User B’s public key is included in the return message or published publically.
The efficiency of PGP or this type of contemporary cryptography depends on the fact that specific math problems are exceptionally difficult to solve, thereby making PGP a sought-after source for sending private messages. To give you an analogy of how PGP works, you can refer to the following example –
- User A sends User B a lock-box with a padlock and no key.
- User B places a message in the lock-box and then locks it.
From this point forward, User A can only unlock the box with their own private key. By using PGP then, it is safe for anyone to obtain access to one’s public key because they can only encrypt messages for the person holding the public key. Security can only be broken if you fail to verify the other party in your communications or compromise the use of the private key.
Therefore, PGP is an easy and safe approach toward communicating privately by e-mail. While PGP will safeguard the privacy of your communications, it does not protect the communicators’ anonymity. Therefore, an eavesdropper will still know that User A is e-mailing User B and vice-versa. However, they will not know the substance of their text or conversation.