PGP: Pretty Good Privacy Explained

What is Pretty Good Privacy?

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a prominent software program, used universally. This program allows the users to send their confidential emails over the internet not only through a safer process of encoding and decoding but also PGP allows validation of integrity of messages using encoded stored files and digital initials. PGP program was created in 1991 by Philip R. Zimmermann. Formerly PGP was available as free software and has the de facto standard when it comes to email safety. Now simply accessible as a marketable version having low cost and is used by various corporations.
PGP: Pretty Good Privacy

How PGP works?

PGP system provides each user with a publically known encryption key and a secret (private) key only known to a specific user. This system uses public key system variation. The message to be send to someone else is encoded by their public key, which by using their private key they can easily decode. PGP uses a faster algorithm for quicker encoding of messages and uses public key to encode shorter (S) key, used to encode the whole message. The receiver uses his private key to decode S key which is used for decoding the whole email message. PGP has two public key versions: Firstly Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) version which uses the algorithm “IDEA” for S key generation for whole message and RSA encodes the short key (PGP pays a license fee to RSA).  Secondly Diffie-Hellman version which uses the algorithm “CAST” for S key to encode the entire message and its own Algorithm to encode S key. PGP uses an effective algorithm for transferring digital signatures that creates a hash code from signature information i.e users name etc. The hash code is encoded with the private key of sender and can be decoded by the receiver using the sender’s public key. If the hash code matches digital signature for message received, then security of message is ensured by the receiver. The Diffie-Hellman version uses SHA-1algorithm while RSA version uses MD5 algorithm for hash code generation.

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Getting PGP!

To use Pretty Good Privacy, purchase or download it and install on your computer desktop. It works with your email program because it comprises of user interface. PGP gives you a public key with public key server which may need registration so that you are able to exchange messages. PGP free software is accessible for older version of windows (UniX, Mac, Windows,DOS etc.). PGP Corp. was acquired by Symantec Corp. in 2010 which stopped free software offer of this software as they held rights to PGP codes. OpenPGP, held by IETF is an open version of this program used by several software vendors such as Coviant, which proposes a free tool for encoding Open PGP and Hush Mail which provides encoded email service which is web based power-driven by OpenPGP. Furthermore Free Software Foundation developed an OpenPGG complaint encoding software GNU Privacy Guard (GPG).

Where you can use it?

Pretty Good Privacy can be used to encode/decode emails, files, texts, whole disk partitions and directories along with validation of digital certificates.Symantec provides PGP products: Symantec Endpoint Encryption for entire disk encryption i.e desktop, mobile and removable storage and Symantec File Share Encryption for encoding files send across a network. The Symantec products allow user to decode and recode on single sign on when it’s used for only files and drives (not messages). U.S government had constrained the exportation of PGP. In 1997 NAI acquired PGP Inc., and legally distributed the source code. Today, PGP encoded emails can be send outside U.S if correct versions of PGP are available at both ends. Various versions of PGP are in use today. RSA and Diffie-Hellman versions of PGP don’t work with one another because of the difference of algorithms. However add-ons can be bought to permit backward compatibility of fresher RSA versions with older ones. A number of tools and services assisting PGP are released by various companies. Google has offered a plug-in for Open PGP encryption in Chrome this year while on the other hand Yahoo has initiated PGP encryption proposal for its email facility.