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Introduction on OpenPGP

Last updated on: 2022-02-09 13:59 UTC

What is OpenPGP?

Well, OpenPGP is a lot. According to openpgp.org:

OpenPGP is a non-proprietary format for authenticating or encrypting data, using public key cryptography.

OpenPGP is one of the most widely used "format" that puts public key cryptography in the hands of everyone.

OpenPGP is not a program but rather a specification. Its current form is RFC 4880, a document that entirely describes how OpenPGP works. Any tool or service can become interoperable with other OpenPGP tools and services by simply complying with the specification.

For more information, here is a link to the Wikipedia entry on Pretty Good Privacy.

What is it used for?

Common use cases for OpenPGP are:

  • encryption of emails
  • encryption of files and hard drives
  • signing documents to prove you read them

You can encrypt a message or an email to make sure only a specific person will read its content, or encrypt a USB flash drive to ensure that even if it gets lost, no one but you can open the files stored on it.

People can also sign documents or emails to prove to the recipient that it was really them who sent it and thus prevent impersonation.

Public key cryptography