Why Use Public Key Encryption? A User’s Perspective…

In the last year and a half we have all been affected or know someone who has been affected by leaked information.  We have begun to hear this message over and over….…Information stolen, Personal Information Compromised, Social Security Numbers Lost, etc.

We begin to ask ourselves, what can we do?  How do we protect ourselves in both our professional and personal lives and be more proactive? There are several things you can do to protect yourself and PGP/GnuPG (GPG) is one of them.

At MicroSolved, Inc. (MSI) our team uses a variety of tools and applications, PGP and GPG are just a few.  PGP/GPG are used to encrypt confidential data using public-key encryption. For example, you might use them to protect E-Mail and Data Files. They allow you to exchange files or messages with privacy, authentication and convenience.

So what is PGP?  “An abbreviation for Pretty Good Privacy; PGP is an electronic privacy program which helps you ensure privacy by letting you encrypt files and e-mail. The encryption technology employed by PGP is very strong. PGP was created by Phil Zimmermann, and depends on public key cryptography for its effectiveness. Public key cryptography is a procedure in which users exchange “keys” to send secure documents to each other. For more on PGP, go to http://www.pgp.com.”

Source:  www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/linux/RHL-7-Manual/getting-started-guide/ch-glossary.html

What is GnuPG?  “GPG is the GNU project’s complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard. GPG allows you to encrypt and sign your data and communication, features a versatile key management system as well as access modules for all kind of public key directories. GPG is a command line tool with features for easy integration with other applications. A wealth of front end applications and libraries are also available.”

Source: http://www.gnupg.org/

So you ask what does privacy, authentication and convenience mean?

v     Privacy means only those intended to receive a message can read it.

v     Authentication means that messages that appear to be from a particular person can only have originated from that person.

v     Convenience means that privacy and authentication are provided without the hassles of managing keys associated with conventional cryptographic software.

Whether we are protecting confidential data stored on our computers, communicating with clients or a remote office, these tools can help.

Where should you use PGP/GPG?

v     Email Security

v     File & Disk Security

v     Secure File Transfer

v     Secure Storage

v     Removable Media

v     Instant Messaging Security

Costs for the different modules and toolsets from the two products vary, but range from FREE to a few hundred dollars. They likely make for an excellent investment, either personally or for companies of any size.

Stay tuned for additional tools and ways to a more secure Internet experience.  Remember everyone has a responsibility to protect confidential data and be safe online!

Leave a Reply