Pretty Good Privacy
Why you need it.
E-mail is as public as a postcard! Every letter you send through the Internet can be easily snatched up and scanned for interesting details by anyone with the right know-how. Privacy is virtually nonexistent online.
Fortunately, there's a simple answer to this problem: encryption. Encryption is the process of scrambling data so it can only be unscrambled and read with a special key.
PGP is by far the best encryption software; it's powerful, easy-to-use, and free! PGP works with two keys: a public key and a private key. The public key can scramble a message, but it can't be used to unscramble a message. You can give this key to everyone you want. The Private key is used for scrambling messages. Don't give this key to anyone! As an added security measure, your message is also locked with a secret "passphrase," so in case anyone swipes your private key, they still must have your passphrase before they can unscramble your messages.
Setting it up.
Next, install the software by double-clicking the installation program icon. After the software is installed, you'll see a padlock menu in your menubar. Click this menu and choose "PGPkeys." This will open the PGP keys program where you can create your first set of public and private keys. You can also search for your friends' keys on the Internet from this program.
Encrypting a message.
Once you've created your keys, you're ready to encrypt your first message! The PGP menu will appear in any program you choose. To encrypt a message simply select the text you want to scramble and choose "Encrypt" from the PGP menu. You will be presented with a dialogue box containing all your keys. Choose the keys that belong to the people you want to be able to read your message.
The encrypted message will look like the text below. It looks like a bunch of garbled text, but your secret message is in there! It's locked tightly away and without the Private Key and your passphrase, it can never be unscrambled.
In order to unscramble a message, select the PGP message and choose "Decrypt" from the PGP menu. You will be able to see the names of the people this message is meant for, and if you are among them, you will asked to enter your passphrase. Just enter it, and your message will be unscrambled!
That's pretty much it. Just remember, if you want to send an encrypted message to a friend, you both must have the PGP software to do it. However, the newest version of PGP allows you to create "self-decrypting archives" that you can lock with a password and send to people who don't have the PGP software. You can also use PGP to lock your disks or private files on your computer to keep people from snooping.