Originally Published: Sunday, 14 November 1999 Author: Mike Chan
Published to: news_learn_firststep/Firststep News Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

Gnu Privacy Guard (encryption)

One of the great things about linux is ability to easily send encrypted messages/data back and forth between two users using public/private key encryption. This allow secure transmission of sensitive data that cannot be allowed to be read by anyone else except the intended viewer. The tool of choice of the GNU generation is `gnupg`. It adheres to the Open PGP standard, and is now finally stable. Read on for a quick into on how GnuPG works.

The basic premis is that it is easy to take two prime numbers, and multiply them together to get a result. However, given just that result, it is extremely difficult to find out what the two prime numbers were. The public/private key pairs can be seen as the two prime numbers. The way this encryption scheme is used is that two keys are generated... a private key (one that no one sees, but the generator) and a public key. The private key is kept in a safe place where it will not be comprimised. The public key is given to public key servers, where any user can then use that key. Within the "key" are encoded information like email, comment, name, and the date of generation for the key.

Using the public key, anyone is able to encode a message which only the corresponding private key pair can decode. So, only the individual or organization holding the private key half of the key pair can decode it.

To learn more about Gnu PG, click here.