With cybercrime on the rise, data loss prevention solutions are becoming more important than ever before. Companies that hadn’t been using secure file transfer services before are now making use of various methods to protect sensitive company data. PGP is a security program that is frequently used to protect emails and private file transfers, but what is PGP? In order to understand how it works, one must first understand the concept of encryption.
What is Encryption?
Encryption uses a special algorithm to transform plaintext into cipher text. Encryption software works by scrambling a message to make unreadable if it is intercepted. A special key is required to encrypt the message, and depending on whether or not symmetric vs asymmetric encryption is used, the same or a different key is used to decrypt (unscramble) the message. Symmetric encryption uses a single secret key to both encode the message and decode the message, so anyone with this one code would be able to access the information. Asymmetric encryption, also known as public key encryption, uses two separate keys. A user can make their public key available to anyone to allow them to encrypt data. A separate, private key that is known only by the user is used to decrypt data. Public key encryption is a more secure method of encrypting information.
What is PGP?
PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, is a special program used to encrypt and decrypt data so that only a specified user can access the content. PGP uses a hybrid method of encryption, making it a very secure and very efficient way to protect data. With PGP, the encryption process is multilayered. First, plaintext is compressed, which not only provides an extra layer of security, but also saves transmission time and storage space. Next, a session key is created. The session key is a secret key created for one-time use and is randomly generated based on key strokes and mouse movements. After encrypting the data, the session key is then encrypted with a user’s public key. The encrypted message and session key are then sent to the intended recipient. The recipient is then able to decrypt the session key with their private key, and can then use the session key to decrypt the message.
By using PGP software, companies and individuals can feel at ease knowing that their private data is protected.