Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) offers the possibility of secure and private communication as an important privilege in personal data protection against potential threats.
PGP, a free technology that’s available to the public for use, exploits the public and private key systems as an encryption technique for ensuring that online users send and receive information securely and privately.
Using PGP Encryption for Communication
PGP encryption enables users to communicate in confidentiality. For anyone to send private messages, PGP mobilizes private-key and public-key encryption to protect communication channels from external parties.
To do this, the sender of a message encrypts the information using a public encryption algorithm supplied by the intended receiver. The message receiver then returns their personal public-key to users they intend to receive message from.
The entire process offers a layer of protection to the information being shared and, once the recipient gets the message, they use a private-key to decrypt the message while keeping it secret from external parties.
Message authentication and integrity checking is another important role that PGP plays in communication. Integrity checking serves to figure out the “purity” of a delivered message to ensure that it was not tampered with during the communication process. Importantly, the same function is used to ascertain the legitimacy of the claimed message sender.
In a real world scenario, an encrypted message will always sell out a possible alteration to spook out the intended recipient. Considering that an email was encrypted, any adulterations will prevent successful decryption of the message with the key.
PGP creates digital signatures for communication by establishing a hash from the plaintext and computing it using the message sender’s private key. A user can then provide their signature to another individual’s public-key as a way to prove the rightful ownership of a message.
Importantly, PGP ascertains that a specific message is delivered to the intended recipient. The encryption method considers the prerequisites for supplying user’s public keys in the form of an identity certificate. The certificates are created with intention of making it easy for message tampering to be identifiable.
Point to note, the certificates are only effective at detecting message adulteration once it has already happened, not before.
PGP Encryption Beyond Communication
PGP is typically mobilized in email communication to encrypt attachments, but there exists several other valid reasons for using PGP to encrypt data held in servers.
In a general sense, PGP encryption enables you to store data on a server with a reinforced layer of security – an aspect that would cushion your sensitive information from external data attacks, including internal access.
First, PGP upholds privacy compliance. While system administrators have all the good reasons to access a server, PGP assists in managing users effectively.
The execution of server maintenance and updates requires the unrestricted access of admins to the server, although incidental access can challenge compliance regulations and become illegal.
Thus, the encryption of stored data would offer the much-needed protection against incidental access.
Second, PGP is an effective defense against externally-instigated data breaches. Hypothetically, if a cybercriminal succeeds in accessing a target server, no one wants their sensitive material to be “cryptographically naked” as this situation will have devastating ramifications.
PGP encryption can be considered to be a final resort as far as server defense is concerned – the cybercriminal who accesses a PGP-protected server will only encounter undecipherable files. The occurrence of other anti- hacker mechanisms will then take over to expel invasive users, and ban offensive IP addresses in complete shutdown of a cyberattack.
In addition, PGP prevents the often-underestimated employee theft of data. Although most cyber reports have pointed fingers at malicious users as formidable threats in organizational cybersecurity, it turns out that employees have been causing massive data breaches and leaks on the regular.
Take the case example of a 2017 case where Google’s parent company sued one of its former engineers for allegedly copying more than 14,000 internal files and sharing them directly with Uber. It was reported that the ex-Google employee had effectively stolen corporate secrets and shared them with his new employer.
Well, this was not the first and last story involving employees with high company clearances choosing to steal organizational data for personal gain.
In this context, PGP encryption can be used to automatically protect internal data from such like cases of employee threats.
Ultimately, the biggest lesson here is for everyone to stop over relying on network firewalls and protocols but instead employ data encryption for maximum security. A majority of Managed File Transfer Systems (MFTs) can execute PGP encryption efficiently.
It is advisable for organizations to seek MFT solutions that encrypt data on-the-fly, protecting data in a single step, so that unencrypted data is not written to the disk.
Indeed, the proper use of PGP encryption comes as a necessary precaution to protect your precious data through your corporate journey.