PGP Definition

KZero Staff
Oct 17, 2023

PGP, or  Pretty Good Privacy, is a specific type of encryption developed in 1991 by Phil Zimmermann and is still widely used for emails, file transfers, and many other purposes across many industries.

How PGP Works

The encryption program uses symmetric and asymmetric (public-key) cryptography, hashing, and data compression, combining all of these through special algorithms that make PGP unique. PGP uses the OpenPGP standard (RFC 4880) currently used for most of our browser activity.

Examples of PGP

With PGP encryption, it’s possible to secure any kind of data that is transmitted digitally. This means it could include emails, text messages, computer files, and partitions of a disk. For example, with PGP, it’s possible to send a message to someone else in a completely confidential manner since the sender can encrypt the message through asymmetric encryption algorithms previously made available by the receiver. This means that, during the transmission of the message, nobody other than the two parties involved in the correspondence will be able to decrypt the message that was sent.

Advantages of PGP

PGP is important not only to encrypt and decrypt data but also to verify the integrity of a specific message. Specifically, with PGP, verifying whether a message has been altered or tampered with is possible. Advanced users often use this method to verify that a specific software being downloaded comes from the official developer rather than some malicious actor trying to install a virus on the computer.

The name Pretty Good Privacy was initially inspired by the grocery store “Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery” that Zimmermann would hear on the radio. Zimmermann was a political activist and a strong supporter of the open-source community. That’s why PGP never required a license fee, and its code was immediately published online. For his choices related to PGP, Zimmermann has been regularly lauded by many political activists from authoritarian countries, libertarians, cypherpunks, and several established political figures.

Through the PGP Corporation, many additional products were developed by Zimmermann and his associates, such as the PGP Desktop 9.x, mod openpgp, and the PGP Universal Server 2.x.

KZero Staff

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