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Book details of 'PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid'

Cover of PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid
TitlePGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid
Author(s)Michael Lucas
PublishedApril 2006
PublisherNo Starch Press
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The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid':

Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
The introduction states that while the book does cover foundational encryption concepts, it is primarily intended to explain the appropriate use of the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and GPG tools. This preamble also provides a history and description of PGP, OpenPGP, and GnuPG. The rudimentary outline is good, but does have some errors: an ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) offence would be a criminal (rather than civil) matter so the US government never did launch a lawsuit against software author Phil Zimmermann (although other lawsuits were launched surrounding the program), and the program was produced before the book of the source code was published. (Lucas also retails the myth that the NSA has a secret computer that can crack the strongest of encryption algorithms: to those who truly do understand encryption technology the suggestion is patently absurd.) Chapter one outlines the basics of cryptography, but adds more errors: for example, a code doesn't relate to concealment, and substitution is not the only form of ciphering. While the explanations are sometimes far from clear, generally the ideas are presented reasonably, although in a simplistic manner. (Here and at other places in the book, Lucas attempts to inject the occasional note of levity. As with similar attempts by other authors, these jokes will not help the reader to understand or remember of the material. However, at least Lucas keeps the quips to a minimum, and they aren't too annoying.) Elementary components of OpenPGP are related in chapter two. Installation instructions for PGP Desktop are provided in chapter three, along with additional suggestions and information about locations for keys. These are useful for those with an intermediate or advanced level of familiarity with Windows, but there is insufficient detail or explanation provided for novice users, who appear to be the most appropriate target audience for thia book. Chapter four deals with the installation of GnuPG and the Windows Privacy Tray (WinPT) graphical front end, and more details are provided for this form, although the definition is still weak. Specific operations and activities regarding the building and use of the Web of Trust are outlined in chapter five, but the implications and underlying concepts are not explained well even though some of the more esoteric ramifications are mentioned. Key management dialogue boxes are described for PGP in chapter six, and GnuPG in seven. Chapter eight is an introduction to the idea of (and some of the problems with) using OpenPGP with email. Various settings for PGP and email are in chapter nine. Installation of plugins for GnuPG and the Outlook, Outlook Express, and Thunderbird mailers is described in chapter ten. Various warnings about using PGP and GnuPG are sounded in chapter eleven. Most are reasonable, but some betray a lack of background (SHA-1 is more susceptible to the birthday attack than to forgery). This could be a helpful guide if you are new to encryption and wish to install and use PGP Desktop or GnuPG. However, note that the background information is limited, and sometimes inaccurate. For most users this will not be an issue. More importantly, beyond the basic operations of the programs there is little in the way of advice on the finer points of "appropriate" use of encryption services. A handy guide to obtaining and installing the software, but, beyond that, you are pretty much on your own. copyright Robert M. Slade, 2006

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Book description:

OpenPGP is the most widely used email encryption standard in the world. It is based on PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) as originally developed by Phil Zimmermann. The OpenPGP protocol defines standard formats for encrypted messages, signatures, and certificates for exchanging public keys. PGP & GPG is an easy-to read, informal tutorial for implementing electronic privacy on the cheap using the standard tools of the email privacy field - commercial PGP and non-commercial GnuPG (GPG). The book shows how to integrate these OpenPGP implementations into the most common email clients and how to use PGP and GPG in daily email correspondence to both send and receive encrypted email. The PGP & GPG book is written for the moderately skilled computer user who is unfamiliar with public key cryptography but who is nevertheless interested in guarding their email privacy. Lucas's trademark informal and relaxed tone makes public key cryptography as simple and clear as possible, so that any reasonably savvy computer user can understand it.

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