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A message is called either plaintext or cleartext. The process of disguising a message in such a way as to hide its substance is called encryption. An encrypted message is called ciphertext. The process of turning ciphertext back into plaintext is called decryption.

The art and science of keeping messages secure is called cryptography, and it is practiced by cryptographers. Cryptanalysts are practitioners of cryptanalysis, the art and science of breaking ciphertext, i.e. seeing through the disguise. The branch of mathematics embodying both cryptography and cryptanalysis is called cryptology, and it’s practitioners are called cryptologists.

PGP uses public-key encryption to protect E-mail and data files. Communicate securely with people you’ve never met, with no secure channels needed for prior exchange of keys. PGP is well featured and fast, with sophisticated key management, digital signatures, data compression, and good ergonomic design.

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), from Phil’s Pretty Good Software, is a high security cryptographic software application for MS-DOS, Unix, VAX/VMS, and other computers. PGP allows people to exchange files or messages with privacy, authentication, and convenience.

Privacy means that only those intended to receive a message can read it. Authentication means that messages that appear to be from a particular person can only have originated from that person. Convenience means that privacy and authentication are provided without the hassles of managing keys associated with conventional cryptographic software. No secure channels are needed to exchange keys between users, which makes PGP much easier to use. This is because PGP is based on a powerful new technology called “public key” cryptography.

PGP combines the convenience of the Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) public key cryptosystem with the speed of conventional cryptography, message digests for digital signatures, data compression before encryption, good ergonomic design, and sophisticated key management.

And PGP performs the public-key functions faster than most other software implementations. PGP is public key cryptography for the masses.

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