Teaching GPG to the Masses

Public key encryption is awesome – it’s a fact. The only problem with it is that no one sans few security geeks ever wants to use it. Most people’s adventures with email encryption starts when they download and install gpg and generate themselves a key pair. It’s fun, and exciting until you realize that you don’t know a single person that you could exchange your keys with.

So what do you do? You generate another key pair, for your other email, and then send yourself few encrypted messages back and forward. Then you go and nag your friends to install it. Usually no one ever does – and if they do, they manage to loose their passphrase within a week. Then you forget your own passphrase because you are never using it, making this whole exercise a waste of time.

The other day my brother discovered obfuscation. He found one of these “convert text to binary” web apps and realized he can use it to post cryptic messages on people’s myspace that only few people would be able to decrypt. This led him to simple caesar ciphers and the infamous rot13.

So he asked me if I could write him a program which would do some kind of “for your eyes only” encryption. I briefly explained GPG to him and he thought it was relatively cool. I’m planning to show him how to use gpg4win suite which is probably the most intuitive windows based GPG frontend that I have tried.

I wonder if this is going to be to much PITA for him or will he actually be able to convince his friends to use it. I’m secretly hoping that maybe it catches on, and starts snowballing infecting the MySpace generation with a fascination for public key encryption. It’s not gonna happen or course. But if I can teach few kids to use GPG for encrypting personal communications then it is a success in and of itself.

[tags]public key encryption, encryption, security, gpg, gpg4win, cryptography, rot13[/tags]

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One Response to Teaching GPG to the Masses

  1. Fr3d UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Paragraph 2: So true… I got GPG all setup nicely on my Linux partition, integrated it into thunderbird… And then noticed that I rarely email anyone who would actually use it.

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