Cryptography is a very well established field that’s been around for quite some time. We live in an age where sending sensitive and personal information across the web is an afterthought. But chances are good that it shouldn’t be. After all, would you trust just anyone with your bank account information? What about those pictures that you would be embarrassed to show anyone else?
Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties called adversaries. More generally, cryptography is about constructing and analyzing protocols that prevent third parties or the public from reading private messages.
Cryptography Resources For Learning
- The Center for Deocracy and Technology Cryptography Page
- The Crypto Policy Archive
- John Gilmore’s Cryptography Export Control Archives
- Cryptography World has introductory information for beginners
- International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR)
- The North American Cryptography Archives
- Ron Rivest’s Cryptography and Security Page
- Quadralay’s Cryptography Archive
- Vince Cate’s Cryptorebel/Cypherpunk Page
What’s The Most Common Use of Cryptography Today?
Fortunately for you, there’s a solution that helps protect your information when you send it out into cyberspace. PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is an excellent encryption software which uses cryptography algorithms to protect your privacy.
PGP – The Most Reliable Encryption SOftware
In 1991, a software engineer by the name of Phil Zimmermann invented PGP. As an anti-nuclear proponent, Zimmerman was searching for a way to share information in a secure and private manner via the internet. However, he found himself in a bit of hot water a few years later.
In 1993, PGP found its way overseas, reaching a wide variety of countries around the world. As a result, the United States government stepped in, citing that Zimmermann had violated cryptographic software export restrictions.
Symantec now owns PGP, but don’t confuse the program with the standard. OpenPGP is an encryption standard used primarily for email. However, it can be used to encrypt any type of data.
One thing to bear in mind as you read this article is that PGP does not provide anonymity, it offers privacy. This software will not hide your name. As a matter of fact, it behaves in almost the exact opposite manner: it attaches your identity to any email you send along with the name of the recipient’s name to any email message you encrypt.
How Does PGP Work?
On its face, PGP is actually not to difficult to understand. Let’s look at an example of the methodology behind the PGP standard. You want to provide your friend with a critical piece of private information. You write this information down, put it in a box, and send it to them via mail.
You’ll soon realize that someone with nefarious intentions could easily take the box, open it up, and view your information. What could you do to thwart such a person? At this point, you decide to put a lock on the box that can only be unlocked with a key. The obstacle is, you have to send the key along with the box, which doesn’t solve the problem.
But then you realize you can just meet your friend for lunch and give them the key before you send the information. That might work, right? Potentially, yes, but then both you and your friend have keys that unlock the box. You need a way to lock it since you won’t open it after you close it. Plus, if you keep a second key that unlocks the box, you’re making an unnecessary vulnerability.
Suddenly, you realize what will work: one key to lock the box and one to unlock the box. The first person has their key that can only make the box secure, while the second person has the key that allows them to unlock and access the information within it. This is exactly how PGP works.
You have a public key, which locks and encrypts a message. Additionally, you have a private key, which gives you the ability to unlock and decrypt messages. The public key is sent to anyone who plans on sending you encrypted messages. That way, they can “lock” the message before sending it. Then, you use your private key to decrypt or “unlock” that same message so you can read it.
The ins and outs of the cryptography and encryption behind PGP are a bit more complex than the example we used, but it’s a great way to keep your information secure. If you’re going to use PGP, you want to know how it works, in a broad sense at the very least. Not taking the time to learn about PGP might result in making incorrect assumptions, which could result in you using it improperly.
Remember that PGP’s encryption uses a wide range of methods to ensure that you have private and secure communication no matter what platform you’re using. Some of these techniques include compression, digital signatures, web of trust, symmetric encryption, and public-key encryption.
These techniques combined give you the ability to send your personal, private information in a protected, secure, and efficient manner. Plus, PGP gives users a way to determine that a message has not been altered and is genuine.
OpenPGP was established so that anyone could use the standard for free. As a result, this open source encryption became one of the most widely used forms in the world. Even though PGP encryption isn’t a perfect solution, it’s still one of the safest methods through which you can communicate in the online world.
Here are some of the advantages of using PGP for your communication needs:
- Secure Email – You can securely send your emails plus any attachments through PGP’s encryption techniques.
- Works with Multiple Email Clients – You don’t have to use a specific email program when you use PGP. It will work with several different email clients.
- Don’t Have to Exchange Private Keys – With PGP, one user creates two keys: public and private. Someone else uses the public key to create an encrypted message, while you use your private key to decrypt it.
- No Password Required – Users don’t have to have a password to access their message. Messages can only be opened with the decryption key which the receiver holds.
- Multiple Implementation Options – PGP is not an application, it’s a protocol and a standard. That means applications can make use of PGP to fully encrypt emails or other forms of communication.
PGP is a great solution when it comes to encrypting email messages. This is primarily due to the fact that so many people use some form of email on a daily basis. Even though the standard may not be perfect, it’s a great option for protecting your information via email.
You can use PGP for encrypting and decrypting emails or signing files and messages. Using PGP provides a way to reduce the theft of personal and private information. If you’re looking for a great way to protect critical data you have to send via email, take a moment and look into PGP.