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Creating Your Own Keys

Okay, once you have PGP installed, you need to create your own
keys. But before we get started on that, let's briefly describe
how all of this works...

Briefly, the idea is this...PGP generates strong cryptographic keys, a public and a private key. You keep the private key, and distribute your public key...attach it to your email by using a signature file, post it on a web page, whatever. You get your friends public keys and import them into PGP Tools. When you want to send an encrypted email, you encrypt the email using the public key of whomever you are sending it to...and only that person will be able to decrypt it using their private key. You can also sign the files and emails so that whomever has your public key in their key ring will know that the file is from you, and not someone pretending to be you.

Now, let's generate a key pair. Click Start -> Programs -> PGP ->
PGP Keys. Note: This assumes that you installed PGP using the default options. You will see lots of keys already in the PGP Keys tool...these are the keys of the folks at PGP, Inc, which is now part of Network Associates. Scroll down until you find Phil Zimmerman's key...he is the creator of PGP.

To create your own pair, choose Keys -> New Key... and follow the instructions. The second screen of the Key Generation Wizard asks for your full name and an email address. If you have one of the free email accounts from Yahoo or HotMail, you may choose to use that email address. The third screen asks you to pick how large of a key pair you wish to generate...since the Happy Hacker herself uses 3072 bits, we'll choose the same strength.

************************************************************ NEWBIE NOTE: The size of the key determines its strength...
the larger the key, the harder it is to crack.

On the fourth screen, choose 'Key pair never expires'.

The fifth screen asks for a passphrase to protect your private key. Choose something that is not at all easy to guess...and then mix in numbers, capital letters, and punctuation. After you confirm your passphrase and click 'Next', there will be a way cool graphic while PGP generates your key pair.

Next, since we're just setting this up on our own system, and not connecting to a root server (a server that is used by companies to manage lots of keys), do not check the 'Send my key to the root server now' box.

You now have your own key pair!!

More PGP for newbies-->> 

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