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How Useful is PGP Encryption?

How Useful is PGP Encryption

With threats lurking in every corner, security software is more prevalent than ever before. While virus protection and spam filtering is essential, these programs are worthless at actually keeping prying eyes off your personal information. If privacy is something you are considered about, you need a powerful encryption product like PGP.

Pretty Good Privacy or PGP, has been playing a key role in data security since the early 90s. Although there are some versions that provide full-disk encryption, PGP is mainly a solution that encrypts messages for traveling over the insecure email system. So does it really offer adequate protection? To the best of public knowledge, there is no method known to penetrate files protected with PGP encryption. Bruce Schneier, a well known cryptographer, states that PGP is the closest you can get to military-grade encryption.

How PGP Works

PGP effectively combines the best features of public-key and conventional cryptography, which is why many consider it a hybrid cryptographic solution. When encrypting your data, the program begins the process by compressing the plaintext. This cuts down on transmission time, saves disk space and most importantly, provides added security. From there PGP creates a session key which acts as a one-time secret key. In terms of cryptography, a key is a random number generated from keystrokes and the movement of your mouse. The session key works in conjunction with an algorithm to encrypt the plaintext and convert it into unreadable characters known as ciphertext. After your data has been encrypted, the session key is also encrypted to the email recipient’s public key and transmitted along with the ciphertext.

PGP Passphrase

If you are anything like most people, you are more familiar with passwords being used to protect a computer system or program. Instead of a password, PGP utilizes a passphrase to encrypt private keys. A passphrase is simply a longer variation of a password and when used correctly, a more secure version. A passphrase is used because it provides better protection against exploits where an attacker tries every word in the dictionary in attempt to figure out your password. It is a good rule of thumb to create a passphrase that is both long and complex, preferably consisting of a combination of letters, numbers and punctuation characters. Your passphrase should be easy for you to remember yet difficult for other people to guess. Despite the length, it should be something that sticks in your head rather than something random you just make up on the spot. Why? Well, if you can’t remember it, you are in trouble. Without the passphrase, your private key is useless. Remember, PGP is designed to keep intruders from viewing your data. If you forget the passphrase, it will prevent you from viewing your own data as well.

Where to Find PGP

PGP is relied on by personal users and businesses alike. If you are concerned about transmitting sensitive data via email, we recommend looking into LunarPages. Their basic plan comes equipped with PGP encryption software and a host of other security tools to help keep you safe.

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5th January 2009
Posted by Web Hosting Consultant in Best Web Hosting Tips

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