Advocating And Providing Tools For Strong Encryption For The Masses and Privacy On The Web

[Why This Should Matter To You]
[Our Public Keys]
[Anonymous Remailers (Tutorial)]
[How To PGP Sign A Web Page (Tutorial)]
[PGP, Security, and Privacy Links]

The Good Stuff

For those of you who didn't know it, I'm a HUGE fan of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). This program allows ordinary ol' folks to send and receive email, files, and data in absolute privacy and with "military grade" (although there is no such thing) security.

If you've ever wondered who's been reading your email while it's on the way to wherever it's going, or who's been on your computer rummaging around in your files while you were away, or if you want to keep the Evil Empire or Big Brother or your nosy boss or a bored office worker at your ISP from snagging your classified plans to meet with buddies and drink beer all weekend, this is for you.

The PGP algorithm is (as far as anyone can tell) bulletproof. Every computer geek in the world has been trying to break it. A cypherpunk who managed to break a PGP message (other than by guessing a passphrase or stealing the keys) would be world famous...and none have managed it since at least 1991. (Side Note For Trivia Freaks: PGP Ver 1.0 was first released into the "wild" via Usenet on June 5, 1991.)

So, are there no vulnerabilities at all? Well, not exactly, as they say in the ads. There are three, none of which have to do with the basic algorithms. Click on the links below for more information on each of them. The government, of course, hates PGP, since law enforcement, the NSA, the CIA and the FBI cannot "backdoor" the encryption. It was, in fact, considered a "munition" and could not be legally exported outside the US. Only recently have court rulings and legislation begun to loosen this ridiculous restriction.

The author, Phil Zimmermann, spent years under investigation and indictment for inventing it and giving it away on the web for free, along with all the source code. It is, simply, the most effective encryption program ever invented that is accessible to the common man.

Think about it...what's in your company's or your private ISP's history and cache files? You sent any email lately that would be a problem if it showed up on the front page because Channel 4 filed a FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request, or would be embarrassing if read by the "wrong" people? Why make it easy for them just because they aren't the Evil Gubmint? Remember, if someone's peeking through your bedroom window, it's probably one of your neighbors, not the CIA.

On the other hand, sometimes government IS the problem. For some examples of life-and-death PGP use from Central America and Eastern Europe, click HERE.

My belief is that your data should be as private as you want it to be. If the printed version of whatever you've got belongs in a safe deposit box, it needs encryption. Further, when you email or otherwise transmit data from you to someone else, you should feel comfortable that your conversation will remain at least as private as it would if you were speaking face-to-face.

If you believe you don't need this, you should be able to save some money by not buying envelopes. Just fold your letter in half and put a stamp and an address on it. They'll deliver it. 'Course, everyone between here and there can read it, but that's not a problem, right?

Anonymous Remailers (Tutorial)

Just a li'l thingie I wrote one afternoon to try to get you up to speed on anonymous remailers....Click HERE to start. Bring your own asprin, and perhaps a strong adult beverage of your choice.

PGP Signing A Web Page (Tutorial)

I PGP signed this page just to see if I could get it to work. It does. If you want to know what "signing" is, how to verify the signature, or how to sign your own web pages, CLICK HERE (opens a new window...)

While surfing the net, I ran across a site that also explains signing HTML pages, and is a near-duplicate of my method. Fair's fair. He apparently did it first, so if you want to check it out (not to mention another fair sized wad of PGP links), see Noel Bell's PGP Page (opens a new window).

For another way to go at signing web pages (using a detached signature file) see David Ross' PGP Page. For a sample of his method, see his Copyright Page. (Both of these links open new windows.) This method seems particularly well suited to Netscape, for reasons I've yet to determine...

PGP, Crypto, and Privacy Links

WARNING! Reading through some of the linked material below can get you pretty paranoid!

Get A Grip!!!! Odds are that NSA doesn't care enough about your piddly little life to devote a zillion computer hours to trying to hack your email or your computer files. On the other hand, your boss, credit card company, background investigators, advertisers, ex-wife, political or private enemies, or the gossipy dude who works at your ISP might.

There has been an enormous body of work written about privacy and encryption in general and PGP in particular. Following are links which summarize some of the good stuff, get you the software you need, etc. Note that this isn't ALL PGP, but includes a number of non-PGP links that are security/privacy related.

***NOTE: When you click on any of the following links, they will open a new window. To come back here when you're done surfing, just close it.***

Phil Zimmermann
Crypto Geek and
Hero Of The People
Info about and articles by Phil Zimmermann, the computer nerd, crypto geek, and part time genius who wrote PGP, spent years under investigation and indictment for publishing it and giving it away for free on the internet. As you can see from the picture, Heros Of The People who change history aren't necessarily Tom-Hanks-Hitting-The-Beach types.

  • Click here for a full transcript of an interview with Phil Zimmermann, Author of PGP.

  • Click here, for Phil's take on the ADK bug fiasco.

  • Click here for Phil's message to the PGP Users' Group on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the release of PGP.

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