Filter by Category

What is PGP and How Does It Work?

When our users send a file over the internet, there are just a few things that seem important at the time:

a) Is the file complete?

b) Is it being sent to the right place?

c) Will it arrive intact?

d) Is sensitive data protected and encrypted from unauthorized recipients?

That's where encryption comes in. By scrambling the data using one or more encryption algorithms, the sender of the file feels confident that the data is secure.

But what about the file's recipient? Will they be able to decode the scrambled file?

Encrypting and Decrypting Files with PGP

For years, PGP has been one of the most widely used technologies for encrypting and decrypting files. PGP stands for "Pretty Good Privacy." It was developed in the early 1990s by Phillip Zimmerman. Today, PGP is considered one of the safest cryptographic technologies for signing, encrypting, and decrypting texts, e-mails, files, directories, and even partitions for increased security.

How PGP Works

PGP encryption employs a serial combination of hashing, data compression, symmetric-key cryptography, and public key cryptography. Each step uses one of several supported algorithms. A resulting public key is bound to a user name or email address. Current versions of PGP employ both the original "Web of Trust" authentication method and the X.509 specification of a hierarchical "Certificate Authority" method to ensure that only the right people decode the encrypted files.

Growing Pains for PGP

PGP has gone through some significant growing pains, including a widely publicized criminal investigation by the U.S. Government. (Don't worry! The investigation was closed in 1996 after Zimmerman published the source code.)

One result of PGP's growing pains has been the fragmentation of PGP. Earlier versions of the technology sometimes can't decode the more recent versions deployed within various software applications. This versioning problem has been exacerbated as PGP's ownership switched from one company to another over the last 20 years.

And yet, because PGP is such a powerful tool for ensuring privacy in data transmission, its use continues to spread far more quickly than other commercially-owned encryption technologies.

Fragmentation and the Future of PGP

How has the industry managed the issue of PGP fragmentation? The answer is the OpenPGP Alliance. In January 2001, Zimmermann started the OpenPGP Alliance, establishing a working group of developers that are seeking the qualification of OpenPGP as an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Internet Standard.

By establishing OpenPGP as an Internet standard, fragmentation of PGP technology can be largely charted and controlled. This means the encrypted file destined for your system uses a documented, standardized encryption technology that allows OpenPGP to be appropriately decrypted. Today's standardization ensures privacy, promotes interoperability between different computing systems, and charts a clear path for securely interchanging data.

OpenPGP and GoAnywhere MFT

OpenPGP has reached the second stage in the IETF's four-step standards process and currently seeks draft standard status. (The standards document for OpenPGP is RFC4880.)

HelpSystems uses OpenPGP in its GoAnywhere Managed File Transfer solution. Just as importantly, HelpSystems is an active member of the OpenPGP Alliance, contributing to the processes that will ensure OpenPGP becomes a documented IETF Internet Standard. By being a member, we will make sure your investment in GoAnywhere MFT remains current, relevant, and productive.

For more information about OpenPGP and the OpenPGP Alliance, go to http://www.openpgp.org. To understand how OpenPGP can help you secure your file transfers, check out our Managed File Transfer solution page.

 

 

Add a Comment

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>

Latest Posts


What Do Industry Professionals Think of Cloud Security? Get the 2018 Guide

June 18, 2018

Whether you’re considering a public cloud deployment or already exist in some form of hybrid environment, you’re probably trying to keep a pulse on the ever-evolving topic of cloud…


Introducing GoAnywhere MFT 5.7: New Cloud Integrations and Other Features

June 15, 2018

The latest version of our secure managed file transfer solution is live! Today GoAnywhere MFT 5.7 released with a variety of new features and updates, including brand-new Cloud Connectors,…


20 Managed File Transfer Project Ideas (Plus Survey Results)

June 6, 2018

Earlier this year, HelpSystems surveyed nearly 200 GoAnywhere MFT users to see how they use managed file transfer software in their organizations. The responses we received from our customers were…


Tradeshow Recap: Exploring Cloud File Transfer at Red Hat Summit 2018

May 21, 2018

Last week marked the first year for GoAnywhere as an exhibitor at Red Hat Summit in San Francisco. The three-day conference was a whirlwind of activity, great conversations, and opportunities to…


3 Reasons to Attend VMUG's June 7 Virtual Event

May 17, 2018

Whether you’re already using VMware to manage multiple virtual machines in one console, or you’re just getting started with datacenter virtualization, staying on top of trends, changes,…