Cyberwolfman's Web Asylum!



 
 
 
 

Email Privacy / PGP Made Easy!

 
 

We're talking really easy here!!!  :-)
 
 

Another helpful Web page by Cyberwolfman


 
 
  You can find other helpful information and links to still more informative pages on the Datafeed and Internet Help pages.  You're welcome.  :-)



 
 
 

  This page is not an adverstisment, the programs I discuss here are free (at least for personal use), and I do not receive any money for helping people out and telling them about encryption and how to use it.  If you want to donate a dollar to help keep this site alive (click here), that's up to you, but it's not necessary.  :-)

 
 
  Windows XP users who find that their favorite PGP programs are incompatible with Windows XP can use PGP Freeware located at:  http://www.pgp.com/downloads/freeware/index.html  Again, you're welcome.  ;-)

 

Like this page?  Click this picture to keep this site going and to learn how YOU can help people the world over for free!



 
 
 

  Looking for my public key and want to skip the tutorial?  Click here.

 
  PGP:  Pretty Good Privacy.  Encrypting your email (so that only the person you're sending it to can read it) is extremely easy!  :-)  I'm pretty sure that many of the kids in grade school can now do this without any problems whatsoever.  With the newest free programs, you can finally have secure communication with all your friends!  You can gossip, tell secrets, exchange really personal information with trusted friends, fellow employees and associates and not have to worry about a lot of people being able to read it on the way to and from each other.  :-)
 

  Sending an un-encrypted email is like sending a postcard through the mail, except that there's a lot more people that can read it on its journey.  I hope that it's illegal to read other people's email, but some people may not care and just really get off on invading other people's privacy.  If your ISP doesn't have their email privacy policy posted on the Web stating in detail how much they respect your privacy and that their employees aren't allowed to invade your privacy by reading your email or any other way, watch out!  It probably means that they allow their employees to read their customers' emails without fear of being fired for doing so.
 

  For some interesting reading, try this short page:  A Cypherpunk's Manifesto.
 

  I use PGP Freeware.  It's a free program and very easy to use.  You can get it at  www.pgp.com/downloads/freeware/index.html  for free.  PGP can also be used for encrypting text documents on your computer.  Handy if you have other people using it and you don't want them to read your stuff, eh?  ;-)  Also, you can use it to keep your passwords safe.  You can start a new notepad file and write all of your passwords down in it.  Then, after encrypting it with PGP, the only password you've gotta remember is your PGP one.  (If you're going to do this, you should make a back-up copy of your PGP program's public and private keyrings, along with that notepad file with your passwords in it, just in case your hard drive develops problems later on, or you accidently delete the file.  Best choice is to copy those files to both a floppy disk and a CD-ROM if possible)  If you're the type of person to keep a diary, PGP is definitely for you!  Of course, you can also encrypt files before you send them to someone to make sure that only they can read them.  :-)
 

  What makes me think that PGP is the best encryption program over all the others out there?  The fact that it seems to be the only one the United States government (and perhaps most especially the NSA (National Security Agency).  And yes, there was a memo stating that Furbies / Furbys are a threat to national security.  These people give new meaning to the word paranoid) gets upset about being used internationally.  Talk about your product endorsement!  ;-)

  As for a Furby being a threat to National Security or being considered machina non grata because they're worried it'll reveal classified information, as described in the NSA Furby memo as some of us are calling it:  A Furby can't really record audio.  The microphone is only used to hear sounds, and there's a detector within the Furby which registers the volume of the sound.  It can't even distinguish between different words, and there's no audio or video recorder within a Furby.  There's no room for one.  LOL  Anybody want to put bets down on how long it'll be before the NSA figures that out?

  While checking out the Furby, though, I did get a kick out of the IR (infrared) light coming out of the little black plastic window in the top of it.  Want to see it for yourself?  Get a black and white video camera like a cheap security camera or Web cam and watch the monitor as the Furby speaks.  Now, I wonder how many people after reading this are going to try using a remote control on their Furbys / Furbies?  ;-)

  The NSA Furby memo asked people to contact their Staff Security Office for guidance.  If they know as little about technology as the person who wrote the NSA Furby memo, this is going to be a really fun conversation!  LOL

  I've heard that NASA is going to ban Furbys / Furbies, too.  If their technical people can't figure out that this toy isn't capable of recording anything, I think the space program may have serious problems.


 
 
 

  This is how to encrypt an email if you are (like myself) using an email program like that furnished for free with Mozilla or Netscape:

 
  1st step:  I type up an email.
 

  2nd step:  When I'm finished, I select all the text (I just hit Ctrl+a if I have the cursor in the email text) then I select cut (or use Ctrl+x) so it goes onto the clipboard.  The shortcuts are for my email program and although they work with pretty much every other program that uses text, they may not work with your email program so you may want to make sure before using them.  Look in the Menu Bar's drop down menu under the word Edit.  The keyboard shortcuts should be listed there.
 

  3rd step:  Since I've already installed the PGP program (I think it only took about a minute and a half), I right-click on the PGP thing on my taskbar and choose 'Encrypt Clipboard'.  It then shows me a list of people's public keys it has stored in its memory.  All I've gotta do is find the one that belongs to the person I'm sending the email to and double-click on it or select it and drag it down into the box at the bottom.  If it's not in my list, I can choose the search function where I just type in the person's name or email address (usually a safer bet) and it searches through an on-line system for it and if it finds it, it'll give it to me.  Then it encrypts the clipboard with their public key (takes maybe a second or two on an average computer).
 

  4th step:  Then I click into the body of the email again and paste (Ctrl+v) the encrypted message in.
 

  5th step:  I send the email.  Ta-da!  That's it!  :-)
 
 
 

  I found out that you can also encrypt it with your own public key and the other person's as well so that you can look back at the encrypted email you sent to someone else if your email program saves copies of the messages you send out.  For some reason, they didn't mention that in the program's manual.  I found it out for myself when I got curious.  Having an imagination like mine comes in handy sometimes.  ;-)
 

  You may want to get the program now because some people may not like anyone having access to supposedly unbreakable (so I'm a little untrusting and the government (okay, mainly the NSA) doesn't tell the public the truth about what technology they're hiding) encryption that's this easy to use!
 
 
 
 

  Since I told you how to encrypt a PGP encrypted email, it's only fair that I also inform you as to how to decrypt one.  This is how:

 
  First step:  You highlight all the PGP stuff from the line '-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----' down to '-----END PGP MESSAGE-----', making sure you include those two lines in what you're selecting, or it'll give you an error message.  Then you copy it to the clipboard.  If you don't know how, it's simple.  After you've selected all the text I mentioned, you right-click in it, and select 'copy'.

  Second step:  Then, you go to the little icon that looks like a padlock on the taskbar and right (or left) click on it, and select 'clipboard' then 'decrypt and verify'.  A little window will come up saying "decoding clipboard" (unless your computer is a lot faster than mine.  It's only on for a second), then another window will appear entitled 'PGPtray - Enter Passphrase' and it shows to whose public PGP key (or keys) the message was encrypted to.  (Usually, I encrypt it to my own as well as that of the person I'm sending it to, so I can refer back to it at a later date, since an encrypted copy of the message is included in my 'Sent' folder every time I send one out, because I have it set up that way in my email preferences.)

  Third and final step:  Then all you need to do is enter your passphrase in the second box (if you like, you can also uncheck the checked very small box that says 'Hide Typing' if you're not concerned about someone looking over your shoulder or being able to see what's on your screen due to the computer sending out what it has on it via radio waves through the surrounding area, or someone that's found a way into your computer and is seeing everything that you do on it.  I heard that some employers use programs to see what their employees are doing on company computers, to see everything that they see on the monitor, as well as using keystroke recorders (AKA key loggers or key catchers), so you may want to be careful.)

  When you've done that, the message should appear in the text viewer.  Sometimes the encrypted message is created so that it can't be copied and it gives you the message "The message you are decrypting was created for your eyes only.  It is recommended that this message only be read under the most secure circumstances".  The person that sent it did it that way by selecting 'Secure Viewer' when they encrypted it.  For added security when you read it (if they did indeed do it that way), it can also be viewed by having the 'Use TEMPEST Attack Prevention Font' selected in the little check box at the bottom of the secure viewer window.  This will use a smaller font, and also colors the background so that the text and background are so similar that those viewing your monitor's signal via radio waves will find it nearly impossible to read it.
 

  And now in addition to knowing how to decrypt and verify a PGP encrypted and signed message, you now know more about computer security than most other users.  :-)
 
 
 
 

  Some quick tips on PGP

 
  Generating your keys:  You should wait until you're about ready to quit using the computer for the day or night before you run the program and generate your public and private keys (the public key is what you give out to people like I'm doing below and the private key is what you keep so that you can read the encrypted email).  It takes a few seconds for the computer to do it.  If you've got a really slow computer, it may take a bit longer.
 

  If you're the really paranoid type, you can choose to only give out your public key to people in person on a floppy disc.  Want to be absolutely certain they have the right public key?  You can verify that by calling them up on the phone and asking them to open up PGPkeys, right-clicking on your key, selecting 'properties', then reading off what it says in your key's signature.  By doing this, you can make sure that someone didn't give them a public key and tell them that it was yours.  If they did that, they can intercept emails to you and un-encrypt the message and read it, and even change some of the content of it, then encrypt the thing with your real public key this time and send it off to you.  Neither you or your friend would even know that it was happening unless you had frequent phone conversations or met in person and discussed the same details you did in the emails.  If you don't think such things happen, you and I obviously aren't living in the same world.  Either that, or you never heard of things like ECHELON  (try this page  if that one won't work for you, but bear in mind that these pages aren't light reading) or the FBI's Carnivore system, that they hook up to email servers on ISPs that go through everyone's (not just criminals, but everyone's) emails.


 

  Here's my public key if you'd like someone to practice on the first time you use PGP who won't laugh at you if you make a mistake.  Though to be honest, I doubt if anyone even can now.  This will just prove to you that it really works.  :-)

*  Due to the fact that I do not currently have a free PGP program, and cannot afford a commercial version, I have removed my old public key from this page. If, someday, they create a free PGP program that doesn't suck, I'll start using it again.
 



-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
Version: PGP 8.0.2 - not licensed for commercial use: www.pgp.com
-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

 



  Closing comments

 

  It should soon become the norm for everyone to send encrypted emails.  It makes more sense than sending messages through the Internet that practically anyone can read along the way.  Tell all of your friends, fellow employees, Internet friends, school chums and anyone else you talk with about PGP.  It'll ensure their privacy and yours if you exchange emails with them and it'll be doing them a favor.  Besides, if you've read this page, you now probably know far more about encryption than anyone else you're likely to meet in real life (most people still think it's too complicated.  Hah!), so if you discuss it with other people, they'll think you're a lot smarter than you really are.  ;-)
 
 
 

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