Encrypt and Decrypt Secure Email Messages with PGP Public Key

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About Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a digital data encryption program that uses public and private keys to secure e-mail communications. PGP must be installed on your computer before you can use a public key to encrypt or decrypt data. Currently, the university does not offer PGP through any of its software distribution channels. PGP software can be purchased from Symantec


PGP public key

The PGP public key is published on pgp.mit.edu and keyserver.ubuntu.com.

Click the public key file in the Attachments section blew to verify the authenticity of passphrase reset emails.


Encrypt messages 

To learn how to use a PGP public key to encrypt messages or other data you have sent and decrypt messages or data that you have received, follow the steps listed below:

  1. Compose an email using the client of your choosing.
  2. When you have finished composing the e-mail, place the editing cursor in the body of your message.
  3. Open the PGP Tray
  4. In the PGP Tray pop-up menu, select Current Window. 
  5. Choose Encrypt & Sign. This will bring up the PGP Tray Key Selection dialog box where you should see the list of Public Keys including that of the person or persons to whom you wish to send your message. 
  6. Double click on the Public Key of the person to whom you wish to send your message. Click OK.
  7. Enter a passphrase when prompted. Click OK
  8. The message will be converted to ciphertext


Decrypt messages

  1. Open the e-mail containing the encrypted message in ciphertext.
  2. Highlight the block of ciphertext.
  3. Open the PGP Tray.
  4. Select Current Window. Choose Decrypt & Verify.
  5. Enter a passphrase into the PGP Enter Passphrase dialog box. Click OK
  6. The decrypted message will come up in a new window for you to read.