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PGP Encryption 101

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Making sure that your communications are secure could be the difference between sending your spouse a message about the electric bill and handing your credit information over to a Russian hacker. The trick is knowing how to properly encrypt your emails, which isn’t as hard as it may sound. Although many people don’t know how to set it up, having protection over your communications is very important. You can go about getting it using PGP encryption technology.

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) was developed by Phil Zimmerman in 1991, so the original software is no longer very relevant. The newest form of PGP technology is called GNU, or Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG). This can be obtained in various different places and installed using different methods, which of course, very with operating systems. One of the best GPG software programs out there is called Thunderbird, and works for Windows as well as Mac OS X, provided you download the right version and install it correctly. You can find the program here:

Windows: https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/how-use-pgp-windows-pc

Mac OS X: https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/how-use-pgp-mac-os-x

Another option would be to install a new Google Chrome extension, called End-To-End, but it is still being tested and is currently under community review.

In order to understand the basics of PGP, think of it like this: there are two keys involved in a message. One key is public, and one is private. When sending someone a message, you download their public key and use it to send them the coded message. The receiving person will then use their matching private key to decode the message. As far as sending coded messages goes, this is by far the most secure method of doing so. The only other step needed is the verification of the recipient before a message is sent. In other words, you want to make sure that the recipient is who they say they are. This can be done using the “web of trust” to endorse other people’s keys. Once someone’s public key has been signed by multiple people, indicating that the public key truly belongs to the recipient in question, the signatures are sent to a key server. This will effectively mark the key as valid and trustworthy.

If you want to know more about how to properly install PGP encryption technology yourself check out the links below!

Windows Users: http://www.reddit.com/r/SheepMarketplace/comments/1ok7k7/a_complete_guide_to_set_up_pgp_also_pgp/

Mac OS X Users: http://notes.jerzygangi.com/the-best-pgp-tutorial-for-mac-os-x-ever/