What is PGP Encryption?
PGP encryption is a complex topic and is not easily explained in detail to someone who is new to the concept. For a technical in-depth explanation please click here, otherwise continue reading the information below for a short explanation. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. At it’s core it’s an internet standard of digital signatures and data encryption. There are several options when it comes to software that employs the OpenPGP standard, both free and very affordable. There are two types of keys that PGP encryption uses – a public key and a private key. They are normally generated as a public-private key pair, and are used together to encrypt and decrypt messages. Encryption happens via the public key and decryption happens via the private key. A good example of using PGP encryption is email. You can send your public key to someone who wishes to send you an encrypted email. They can use your public key to encrypt the message and when they send it to you. What you receive will be a bunch of garbled letters and numbers, which you will be able to decrypt using your private key, and a password that you assigned to the public key. Please note, however, that the meta data of the email will likely still be unencrypted i.e. visible, because PGP encryption applies to the message itself.
How secure is PGP encryption?
We know that the cryptographic algorithms in PGP encryption have been tried and tested over and over by an entire community of users and experts on the subject. PGP encryption dates back to 1991 when it was first introduced, and it is as good as it gets when it comes to email encryption. However, there is no point denying that the NSA or any other government organization can gain access to someone’s computer on a hardware level by using sophisticated technology the existence of which they deny, and the public will never know about. And although we are being led to believe that if we’re not doing anything wrong or engaging in any suspicious activity then we have nothing to worry about, this is not true, and anyone can be spied upon for any reason. After all, “suspicious activity” is a broad term and can have dozens if not hundreds of interpretations. In the interests of safety do not share your private key and password with anyone!