Privacy and data protection have always been a significant concern for people. It has gained more popularity with the advancement of technology. The popularity of PGP is increasing among many people.
The growing interest in using digital platforms for sharing information and communication between people has highlighted the importance of having a robust encryption system.
Luckily we have trusted mechanisms and techniques to safely and securely communicate with each other. The need for privacy and data protection becomes indispensable when sharing confidential information.
Most of you will be familiar with the term Encryption/Decryption or have some idea about it. People use both of these terms in the process of Cryptography.
Cryptography Encryption is securing important information (data) and making it ready for the intended user. The encrypted message cannot be opened or retrieved by anyone unless they are authorized to open it. At the same time, Decryption is the process of recovering that encrypted text.
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is an encryption program that provides privacy and authentication for sharing data on digital platforms. PGP is a proven method to sign, encrypt, decrypt, and secure communication with end-to-end encryption. It is a proven and reliable mechanism to ensure data privacy, security, and authentication.
Why is PGP Becoming Popular
The popularity of PGP is mainly due to the following two factors. The first reason is the availability of this program as freeware, which helps it spread rapidly among users who want an extra level of security for their email messages.
The second is that PGP uses symmetric and public-key encryption, making it more convenient for users to send encrypted messages without exchanging private encryption keys.
In this PGP guide, you will get all the information you need.
Use And Advantages of PGP
There are many advantages of using Pretty Good Privacy for sending, sharing, and securing critical data. The top 3 uses of PGP can be list down as
Send and receive encrypted emails.
Verify the identity of the sender.
Encrypt files stored on the cloud or your devices.
The most popular and frequent use of PGP is to send secure emails without compromising your identity.
Basic Working of PGP Encryption Program
The working of PGP depends on the generation of the Key Pair. It will be used to encrypt and decrypt the message you want to make secure. By Key Pair, we mean two keys, one Public Key and the second is Private Key.
The Public key, as the name suggests, is available for everyone. It can send to anyone who wants to send you a message. Using a Public key, anyone will encrypt the message and send it to you.
On the other hand, the private key is only reserved for you. It would help if you kept it safe as it will be used to decrypt any message you get.
Moreover, you can get the extra feature for authentication with PGP in the form of Digital Signatures. Digital signatures are created with Private keys that are unique to yourself only. These signatures can be verified using your public keys to get proof of your identification.
How To Set Up PGP Encryption?
There are two ways to use PGP encryption for secure and private communication. The best and simple way to understand and use PGP encryption is using a software package for your specific operating system.
You will get that software package for either Windows user. Mac users can use PGP tools to encrypt their communication. In this case, the GPG4Win is a popular choice in the vast community.
Before getting into the details of how to use PGP, you must understand the basic concept of the factors involved in this process.
Public and Private Keys
Now it’s time to understand the basic concept and working of Private and Public keys involved in the process of PGP. Always remember that no communication can be initiated without the availability of PGP keys on both sides.
At the same time, each public key is associated with a specific email address. The sender will use the recipient’s Public key to encrypt the message and add a digital signature. The recipient will receive the decrypted message and will decrypt it using the Private key (passphrase).
The next step is to get both Public and Private keys using GPG4Win to get along with your communication.
Pretty Good Privacy For Windows Users
Before we start, make sure to generate private and public keys for your specific email address:
Follow the prompts and enter your passphrase (private key). This passphrase will be used to decrypt all messages sent to you using your public key. Once done, your screen should have the following:
Now, you will need the public PGP key of the recipient to send the encrypted message.
One way to obtain the Key ID is to Click on “Server” in the menu bar and click “Retrieve Keys…”. Type in the Key ID and click “OK” the key should appear in the list.
If the recipient sends you the PGP key in an email or obtains it from a website, paste the whole selection in the notepad and save it. Import the saved file. For example, Jane Test sent us her public key:
Now, we click on “Import” and navigate to the document with the key. Click “Open”, and you should receive the following message:
Your home screen should look like the following:
There is another option available for users who only want to send secure emails by staying anonymous all the time. They can use a desktop email client for sending Anonymous emails, which protects the user’s message and identity at all times.
How to Use Anonymous Mail Service for Encrypted Communication
Share Your Public Key
The first step to using ProtonMail for sending encrypted emails is by sharing you’re your Public Key with the non-ProtonMail recipient. On the other hand, the recipient must be familiar with the Proton Mail and PGP plugin installed in its mail client. You can easily send your ProtonMail public key by setting up your account. Then compose an email and send it to the intended user. Make sure that Attach Public Key option has been activated.
Look Out for the Option to Attach Public Key
There is another method available to see and distribute your public keys. You can find your keys by following the settings.
Settings → Go to settings → Encryption & keys. See here for more detailed instructions.
Moreover, you can also distribute your public keys automatically to every recipient with the email. If you are an advanced user, you can use the option to setup up your ProtonMail account to automate key distribution. This will make the step of attaching a public key easier for
To set up your ProtonMail account for automatic key distribution, go to mail.protonmail.com and visit Settings → Go to settings → Encryption & keys.
Now it’s time to encrypt your message and send it to your desired recipient. There are two ways to set up encryption in ProtonMail for sending automatically encrypted messages.
· Manually upload the public key of the recipient into ProtonMail’s contacts manager
·Ask the contact to send you an email with their public key attached.
Send Email with Public Key Attached
If you get a message that is appropriately cryptographically signed from your contact with their public key attached, you will see something similar to this:
Click on the Trust key to enable PGP email to this contact. In the popup, confirm that you wish to trust this key by selecting the Trust key again (or Cancel to go back).
Now you have completed the configuration of PGP encryption. Send and receive end-to-end encrypted emails between ProtonMail and external users.