What is PGP?
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a type of encryption program for online communication channels. The method was introduced in 1991 by Phil Zimmerman, a computer scientist and cryptographer. PGP offers authentication and privacy protection in files, emails, disk partitions and digital signatures and has been dubbed as the closest thing to military-grade encryption.
OpenPGP is the most widely applied standard when it comes to modern PGP practices. OpenPGP programs allow users to encrypt private and confidential messages before uploading or downloading content from a remote server. This prevents cybersecurity threats from the open channels of the internet.
The OpenPGP concept involves a pair of keys, the public and private keys, which are simultaneously created and linked by the PGP software. Both keys must be utilized to successfully decrypt a PGP-coded file.
How Does PGP Work?
PGP works as a cryptographic tool that offers added security to files before they are transmitted via the internet. PGP encrypts confidential plaintext information with a public key through an algorithm and a private key is required to revert the file to its original readable form.
PGP fingerprints are shortened versions of a public key. This allows for more organized storage practices on public key management sites and presented on a business card or . Each fingerprint is linked to a unique public key through algorithm that derives the hash (or main message of the content), which is pegged to the unique signature of a user or email account
There are two main methods of using a PGP software.
Firstly, a user may request protected data for identification or authorization purposes. In this case, the requesting party will send out a public key. The recipient will proceed to submit the confidential document along with the received unique public key. This PGP-protected document can only be downloaded and decrypted by someone who has the appropriate private key that is linked to the public key used in the encryption.
Secondly, users may create PGP-protected documents encrypted with their private keys, which may only be decrypted with the use of a corresponding public key. This essentially allows users to authenticate their identity in online file transfers and transactions.
Public keys are often easily accessible from public sites while private keys are closely guarded by users. Each PGP-protected content is unique as it requires a pair of matching public and private keys for encryption and decryption purposes.
Also, it is important for users to note that PGP is not a connection type such as FTP, SSL or SSH, but rather, provides file encryption before they are delivered through the internet. This makes PGP compatible with FTP, SSL and SSH use.
Where is PGP used?
PGP may be used under a wide variety of digital settings that involve the transfer of confidential content. For example, digital contracts are often drafted by companies these days to ensure quick and convenient contract-signing processes. The digital contracts involve PGP-protected signatures to ensure that the right information is delivered to the right people.
PGP is also applied in everyday use, through protecting text messages, emails, and the transfer of disk partitions and files. This provides added security for sensitive information such as passwords, account numbers and confidential documents.
Protected files are identified through the extension of .pgp. For example, if a secured lecture PDF file is delivered to a recipient, it will be viewed as “Lecture.pgp” but upon decryption, the file drops the extension and reverts to its readable “Lecture.pdf” form.
In the modern digital age, where vast amounts of information is being transferred daily, PGP remains an integral component in cybersecurity.