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Pretty Good Privacy
Protect your e-mail in style

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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.

First, you need to download the PGP software. If you live in the US or Canada, you can download it from this site. There is also an international version if you live outside of North America.

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.

The PGP menu has all the options you need!

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.

Encryption dialogue box.

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.

-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.2 for non-commercial use <http://www.pgp.com>
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=SAJs
-----END PGP MESSAGE-----

Decryption

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!

Decryption dialogue box.

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.

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