PGP and GPG – Email for the Practical Paranoid – Review

by DanB

PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid

This week I am reading PGP & GPG – email for the practical paranoid by Michael W. Lucas.

PGP is short for “Pretty Good Privacy.” It is a military grade encryption technology for protecting data and is defined by the The OpenPGP standard. The two most popular programs that implement OpenPGP are PGP (commercial software) and GPG (open source software).

PGP has a long history on the Internet. This history takes on particular significance in these heightened days of security. Phil Zimmermann, the author of PGP, was pursued by the US Government for several years. It is a fascinating story but too long to detail here. The book we are discussing gives a very brief overview of Zimmermann and his troubles.

You may currently believe you do not need to use encryption. Think again and think of your email. Any email you send should be considered a postcard. Anybody between you and the recipient of your email can read what has been written. And there are lots of stops along the way.

If you have something you don’t want other people to read use encryption. It is as simple as that.

This book does a good job of making it easy to understand how to choose between PGP and GPG, install the program, integrate with most of popular email clients, and actually use the software. The total focus of the book is using PGP with email.

What the book doesn’t explain is how to use PGP for other day to day tasks. This is where you will find encryption very helpful. I prefer to use a single product for all my encryption needs rather than one for email, one for files, etc. I like PGP because it is widely available, easy to use once you understand it, and works the same on every system I use.

In my book Tame Your Email you can read the section near the end of the book for an overview of how to use PGP with email, individual files, and for protecting multiple files at once. So start there and if PGP interests you, but you still find it confusing take a look at Michael Lucas’ book. Once you get PGP figured out you will have a handy and powerful tool at your disposal.

I am a strong advocate of using encryption and PGP is my tool of choice. If you aren’t using encryption now – start. You will be ahead in the game and won’t have to play catch up when you need it. “PGP and GPG” is good way to get started and up to speed using these powerful tools for yourself.

Find more information on this book at

Read more about PGP at

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