What is a GPG Public Key?

For All Things IT Security Conference Related

Join Our Newsletter [Over 50K Subscribers]

Let us send you information on ticket discounts, speaking opportunities and a ton more!

Home / Blog / What is a GPG Public Key?

What is a GPG Public Key?

Tagged Under:

It looks like this:

—–BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—–
Version: GnuPG v1.0.6 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: For info see http://www.gnupg.org
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—–END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—–

For those that don’t know – the basic idea is that the sender generates two exact matched keys. One of these security keys is referred to as a “Public” key whilst the other is set as “Private”. You give the Public key to anyone who asks for it; you can even publish it on your web site. The private security key you keep secret, locked up on your own computer. A document (a text or binary file) can be encrypted using either key, and is decrypted with the other. The choice of which key to use to encrypt depends upon your purpose.

A working example:

Say if you sent me something, you would encrypt it using my public key. No one else can decrypt it; only my private key will work. On the other hand, I might be worried that it really is you sending me the email. In that case, you’d encrypt your message using your private key (this is called “signing”). If I can decrypt it with your public key (presumably I somehow obtained that key and trust that it really is yours), I know that the message really came from you.

Leave a comment or reply below...thanks!