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


Tradeshow Recap: VMware 20th Anniversary, Secure File Transfers, and More at VMworld 2018

September 10, 2018

Dazzling booth displays and nerdy Star Wars swag. Informative training sessions. Demos for modern software and hardware. Drones. In-depth industry conversations. Coffee decorated with techy latte…


Are These Users on Your Organization's Security Watch List?

August 31, 2018

Does this story sound familiar? See if you share these trials in your own organization, then request the ebook to learn how to prevent six internal users from putting your network at…


Introducing GoAnywhere MFT for AWS and Azure Cloud File Transfers

August 21, 2018

Are you looking for a solution that automates the movement of files between your on-premises and cloud environments? As cloud computing platforms become more commonplace, organizations are starting…


Getting the Most Out of Your GoAnywhere MFT Trial

August 14, 2018

We know it’s crucial to get a solution up and running quickly during your evaluation period. You want to know if it works, what the benefits are, and how it will impact or improve your business…


Six Signs Your Organization Needs MFT Software

August 7, 2018

As organizations increase the amount of data they transfer between users, employees, and trading partners; cybersecurity and IT teams race to keep up. One wrong move, like the lack of file…