Pretty Good Privacy

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Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a data encryption and decryption computer program that provides cryptographic privacy and authentication for data communication. PGP is often used for signing, encrypting and decrypting e-mails to increase the security of e-mail communications. It was created by Philip Zimmermann in 1991.

PGP and similar products follow the OpenPGP standard (RFC 4880) for encrypting and decrypting data.


How PGP encryption works

PGP encryption uses a serial combination of hashing, data compression, symmetric-key cryptography, and, finally, public-key cryptography; each step uses one of several supported algorithms. Each public key is bound to a user name and/or an e-mail address. The first version of this system was generally known as a web of trust to contrast with the X.509 system which uses a hierarchical approach based on certificate authority and which was added to PGP implementations later. Current versions of PGP encryption include both options through an automated key management server.

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