Implementation of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) for securely
exchanging secure email messages

Basic User Guide

Content :

What is PGP?
Installation of PGP freeware
Creating your PGP keys
Adding the class key server to the PGP client software
Distributing your public key
Retrieving public keys from the key server
Sending and receiving secure encrypted emails
Encrypting and decrypting files

What is PGP?

PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy and it is a program created with the intention of offering privacy to email communications and to secure files and digital information. Our emails messages usually flow around the Internet without any kind of protection and with private information that should not be accessed by unwanted persons. People with the knowledge (hackers) or just physical capacity (Persons with access to email servers) can accessed or intercept them, and read our private documents. PGP is a digital data encryption program that will make sure that our messages are going to stay confidential.

It was created by Phil Zimmermann, a constant promoter of the awareness of the digital privacy; and quickly spread all around the world when he made it public as freeware in 1991. For this reason the US government held a criminal investigation against him because of violations on US export restrictions for cryptographic software. In 1996, when the US government dropped the case, Zimmermann founded PGP Inc., company that Network Associates Inc acquired a year later.

PGP uses public key cryptography, a concept introduced by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman (Diffie-Hellman) in 1975. This cryptographic scheme uses a pair of keys, a public key, which encrypts the data; and a private key, which decrypts the data. Any message encrypted with a public key can only be decrypted by the corresponding private key.

PGP works the following way: Each user creates a pair of keys, public and private, the private key is personal and private, no one else should know or have this key. On the other hand the public key must be distribute among all the users with whom he wishes to maintain a secure and private email communication. When a user wants to send a secure email message he will encrypt it with the public key of the destination user, after doing so, the only one that is going to be able to read the encrypted message is that user, because he is the only one that can decrypt the message with his private key.

The keys are basically a really big number. The public key and the private key are mathematically related but with the selection of a very big pair of keys, it will be very difficult, to not say impossible, to be able to get the private key from a public key. PGP freeware creates keys from 1024 to 3072 bits, the lager the key the less chance someone will be able to get your private key from your public key, in the same way, the larger the key the slower the encryption and decryption process. But unless you are sending some very, extreme, important material, a 1024 bit pair of keys would be more than enough.

Installation of PGP freeware

In order to download the PGP Freeware software you can go to either:    (For the PGP Freeware v6.5.8 version)

or to:    (For the PGP Freeware v7.0.3 version)

There, you will be able to download the software that matches your Operating System.

After downloading the software you must unzipped the file and then double click on the setup file. You then be presented to a PGP Freeware Setup Wizard. Follow the windows typing the required information leaving the default values whenever you don’t know what to type.

Creating your PGP keys

1. Open the PGPkeys windonw from your PGP software by selecting “Start/Programs/PGP/PGPkeys” or by clicking on the PGPtray icon in the lower right corner of your screen and selecting PGPkeys in the pop up menu.

2. The PGPkeys window will show a list of the registered Public Keys. The software comes with public keys from some people from Network Associates; feel free to delete them by selecting them and hitting the delete key. All the Public Keys that you will register will be shown here and your own public key, which you will create later also..

3. In the PGPkeys menu bar, click on the Generate New Keypair icon, or go to “Keys” on the menu and then use the “New Key”option, to bring up the PGP Key Generation Wizard. Read the introductory dialog and click Next.

4. Enter your name and email address. By entering your email address the software will be able to look up your correct key later automatically while using some email applications on. click Next when you're done.

5. Now the PGP Key Generation Wizard asks you to select a key type.  Accept the default “Diffie-Hellman/DSS”. RSA stands for “Rivest, Shamir, and Adelman”, the inventors of this public key encryption technology, an older technology that was used in PGP versions below 5.0. These two technologies are not compatible with each other. click Next.

6. The PGP Key Generation Wizard then asks you to specify the size for your new keys. Accept the default 2048 bits and click Next.

7. For the expiration date, accept the default “Key pair never expires” and click Next; unless you want to be changing your pair of keys often, be aware that you will have to then to spread out your new public key every time you get a new one, and the people you exchange messages with will have to get your new public key every time.

8. The PGP Key Generation Wizard now asks you to enter a passphrase. The passphrase will let you maintain exclusive access to your private key; and it is just a set of words or characters that you will select to let now the software that you are the user of the corresponding private key. A minimum of 8 characters is required and they can be a mix of letters and other characters in lower or upper case. As any password, the longer and more complicated your passphrase is, the harder someone will be able to crack it. After deciding a good passphrase type it and re-enter it for confirmation. Click Next.

Warning: A forgotten passphrase can not be recovered.

Note: You can later change your passphrase by going to the PGPkeys window, selecting your public key from the list, and then going into “Keys” on the menu and selecting the option “Properties”. There you will find a “Change Passphrase” button.

9. The PGP Key Generation Wizard will now generate your key pair. You may be prompted to move your mouse around or hit random keys on the keyboard to help the Wizard create a more secure key.  Click Next when the Wizard has finished generating your key.

10. You may now be asked if you want to send your new Public Key to the root key server where other users can find it and use it to encrypt data that they only wish you to read. Do not do this right now cause the actual “root server” is not the one that we are going to use.

Adding the class key server to the PGP client software

A PGP Key server is a software that let PGP users store and retrieve public data encryption keys in order to distribute them, so a user, after creating the pair of PGP keys, can make its public key available thru the server so other users will go and get it.

We have installed a PGP Key server in order to use it for this class. The following are the steps that need to be done in order to make this key server the root key server of your PGP software.

1. Open the PGPKeys window. (As it was done on the first step of “Creating your PGP keys”).

2. Select “Edit” from the menu and go to “Options”.

3. Go to the “Servers” label on the PGP Options window. There you will find the list of PGP server registered in your software. The PGP freeware software comes with some Network Associates key servers by default, feel free to remove them.

4. In order to include the class Key server hit the “New” button.

5. The “Add New Server” window will pop up.

6. Select the “LDAP” protocol. LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and our server is based on it. It provides a standard method to manage the storage and retrieval of keys on a centralized database.

7. Type: on the Server Name, which is the Domain Name System name of the key server.

8. Type: 489, which is the port number from where the server is listening for requests.

9. Hit the “OK” button leaving the rest of the configuration options as they are.

10. The new Key server will then show on the Servers window, select this server and hit the “Set as Root” button in order to mark it as the root server.

11. Hit the OK button on the “PGP Option” windows.

Distributing your public key

Direct distribution of the public key:

 We can obtain our public key the same way as we copy and paste any stream of characters on a word processor. On this case our public key will look like a bunch of not understandable characters marked by a “BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK” sentence at the start and “END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK” at the end. In order to obtain your public key you must do the following:

1. Go to the PGPkeys window.

2. Select your public key from the list of public keys.

3. Go to “Edit” on the menu and select the “Copy” option (You can do this also by hitting the right button on your mouse or by pressing Control C).

4. Then open a text editor (Notepad in Windows, for example), or you may want to do this directly into an email message for the person that you want to have your public key.

5. And paste the content.
After doing this you will see something like this:

Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.8 for 
non-commercial use <>

6. If you pasted the public key on an email, now you can send that email to your friend and he will be able to have your public key. You can also paste the public key into a text file, copy the file on a disk and then give the disk to the person you want to share your public key with.

The person to whom you send the email or give the disk with your public key will do the reverse operation in order to copy your public key into his public key list of his PGP software.

1. The user will open the email or the file that contains your public key.

2. Will select the complete block of your public key (just like the one on the example above) and will copy it into the clipboard by going to Edit on the menu and the option Copy (or by hitting Control C).

3. Then, will open the PGPkeys window from the PGP freeware software.

4. And finally will go to “Edit” on the menu and “Paste”. A new window will pop up with the description of the public key of the person, and by selecting the key and hitting the “Import” button the key will be added to the public key list.

There is also the possibility of exporting your public key. This option will create a “.asc” file that then can be send as an email or save to disk with the information of your public key. The person you want to share your key with can later import this file. The “Export” and “Import” options can be found on “Keys” at the menu bar of the PGPkeys window.

Distribution of the public key using the PGP key server:

 User’s can also make available their public keys by sending them to PGP key servers, where other users can later go and search for the public keys and encrypt messages with them that can only be decrypted by the users with the respective private key.

 In order to send your public key to the key server created for the people in class (, you must do the following steps:

1. Open the PGPkeys window.

2. Select from the list of public keys your own public key.

3. Go to “Server” on the menu and to the option “Send to”.

4. Finally, select the class server: idap:// If this option is not showing on the “Send to” option you must go back to Adding the class key server in order to add the server to the software.

5. You will see a message window that will tell you if your key was send successfully.

Now any person that wants to have your public key can access the server in order to retrieve it.

Retrieving public keys from the server

In order to retrieve a public key from the key server  you must do the following:

1. Open the PGPkeys window.

2. Go to “Server” on the menu and to the option “Search”.

3. A PGPkeys Search Window will come up where you can specify different characteristics from the user and public key that you are looking for. By hitting the “More Choices” button more specifications can be added.

4. When you finish typing all the specification of the search hit the “Search” button.

5. Locate the public key, from the person you are searching for, on the search window; select it and in order to add it to your public key list your may have many options:

- Copy it to the clipboard (By going to “Edit” on the menu and then “Copy”, or hitting Control C), and then go to the PGPkeys window and “Paste” it.

- You can also drag the selected key into the PGPkeys window.

Now you can use the retrieve public key in order to encrypt email messages to the owner of the key pair.

Sending and receiving secure encrypted emails

After exchanging public keys, two users can start sending and receiving private encrypted messages right away. In order to send an encrypted message you must:

1. Compose the email you want to send as you have always done.

2. After finishing, leave the cursor on the window where you composed the message and go to the PGPtray icon in the lower right corner of your screen, hit the left button on your mouse and on the pop-up menu go to the “Current Window” option.

3. Select “Encrypt” or “Encrypt and Sign”:

The option “Encrypt” will pop up a window called “PGPtray – Key Selection Dialog” that will let you select the public key from the person or persons you want to send the message to, you can double click on every wanted public key or select them and then drag them down.
You also have two encryption options: With Secure Viewer the decrypted data will be display in a special TEMPEST attack prevention font that is unreadable to radiation capturing equipment. This type of equipments can be placed near your computer and send to a remote computer all your keystrokes and information displayed. The Conventional Encrypt option will used just a common passphrase in order to encrypt the message. The decryption process is done by typing the same passphrase.
After doing all that hit the “OK” button.

The option “Encypt and Sign” will run the same steps from above but after hitting the OK button the “PGPtray – Enter Passphrase” window will pop up requesting your passphrase in order to sign the email.
By signing the email PGP provides authentication; the recipient user will be sure that your were the one that send that email, and some extra information about the sender will show up after the decryption process, this information consist on: PGP Signature Status that will specify if the data was modified after the encryption, the name of the Signer with its email address and the Date and Time when the message was signed. This will provide the certainty that the message is authentic and has not been altered.

4. The message will then be converted into ciphertext, an unintelligible set of character that will look like this:

Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.8 for 
non-commercial use <>

The original form of the message can only be obtained now by the owner or owners of the public keys that you selected on step 3.

5. Now you can send the message like you always have.

After receiving an encrypted message the decryption process is done in the following way:

1. Open the email as always. All you will see is the ciphertext.

2. Select the complete block of cipher text.

3. Go to the PGPtray icon   in the lower right corner of your screen, hit the left button on your mouse and on the pop-up menu go to the “Current Window” option and select “Decrypt and Verify”.

4. You will be asked to type your passphrase in order to decrypt the message. The original message will come up in a new window for you to read.

Encrypting, decrypting and signing files

PGP freeware let you encrypt files so you can securely store them in your computer; no one else will be able to see their content or have access to them. You can also encrypt a file with other user public key, making this person the only one able to decrypt it. This option is useful in order to send secure attachments on emails; which will only be available for the owner of the respective private key.
Files can be encrypted with the use of the public key or just with the conventional encryption method. The conventional encryption relies on a common password or passphrase in order to create a unique session key that encrypts and decrypts the archive. The passphrase is used for both purposes.
Another file encryption option is to create self-decrypting archives; which will used the conventional encryption and that will allow you to exchange information securely even with those users who do not have PGP freeware.
By signing a file or message a user can guarantee if someone has altered it and authenticate itself as the sender. The signature is based partly on the signer’s private key and on the content of the message or file; changing one character on the message or file will make the signature invalid. By verifying the sign, a receiver of a file or message may know for sure who was the sender and if someone has altered it.
To encrypt and sign files:

1. In windows explorer select the file or files you want to work with and right click on them.

2. Go to the PGP option and select:

- “Sign” for only signing the file or files. This option will pop up a window asking you to type the passphrase of the private key you want to sign the file with. After typing the correct passphrase a new file, with the name of the original file with extension “.sig”, will be created on the same directory. By double clicking on the latter you may check the signer and verify the content of the original file.

- “Encrypt” for only encrypting the file or files or “Encrypt and Sign” for performing both actions. This options will pop up a “PGPshell – Key Selection Dialog” that will allow you to select the public keys that you want to use for the encryption process. After finishing with this window the “Encrypt and Sign” option will pop up a window to enter the passphrase in order to sign the file.

“Text Output”: Will make the output file (the encrypted or the signed) an ASCII text file. This is necessary for some older email applications. The size of the encrypted file is about 30% greater.

“Wipe Original”: This option will wipe out the original version after the encryption process.

“Secure Viewer”: The encrypted data will be later decrypted and display in a special TEMPEST attack prevention font that is unreadable to radiation capturing equipment. This type of equipments can be placed near your computer and send to a remote computer all your keystrokes and information displayed.

 “Conventional Encryption”, or “Self Decrypting Archive”: Both options used conventional encryption and will pop up a window requesting the passphrase that will be used to encrypt and decrypt the file. The second option will create a self decrypting archive for persons that  don’t have the PGP freeware software.