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Simple Steps to Data Encryption

Book Description

Everyone wants privacy and security online, something that most computer users have more or less given up on as far as their personal data is concerned. There is no shortage of good encryption software, and no shortage of books, articles and essays that purport to be about how to use it. Yet there is precious little for ordinary users who want just enough information about encryption to use it safely and securely and appropriately--WITHOUT having to become experts in cryptography.

Data encryption is a powerful tool, if used properly. Encryption turns ordinary, readable data into what looks like gibberish, but gibberish that only the end user can turn back into readable data again. The difficulty of encryption has much to do with deciding what kinds of threats one needs to protect against and then using the proper tool in the correct way. It's kind of like a manual transmission in a car: learning to drive with one is easy; learning to build one is hard.

The goal of this title is to present just enough for an average reader to begin protecting his or her data, immediately. Books and articles currently available about encryption start out with statistics and reports on the costs of data loss, and quickly get bogged down in cryptographic theory and jargon followed by attempts to comprehensively list all the latest and greatest tools and techniques. After step-by-step walkthroughs of the download and install process, there's precious little room left for what most readers really want: how to encrypt a thumb drive or email message, or digitally sign a data file.

There are terabytes of content that explain how cryptography works, why it's important, and all the different pieces of software that can be used to do it; there is precious little content available that couples concrete threats to data with explicit responses to those threats. This title fills that niche.

By reading this title readers will be provided with a step by step hands-on guide that includes:

  • Simple descriptions of actual threat scenarios
  • Simple, step-by-step instructions for securing data
  • How to use open source, time-proven and peer-reviewed cryptographic software
  • Easy to follow tips for safer computing
  • Unbiased and platform-independent coverage of encryption tools and techniques


  • Simple descriptions of actual threat scenarios
  • Simple, step-by-step instructions for securing data
  • How to use open source, time-proven and peer-reviewed cryptographic software
  • Easy-to-follow tips for safer computing
  • Unbiased and platform-independent coverage of encryption tools and techniques

Table of Contents

  1. Cover image
  2. Title page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Copyright
  5. To the Reader
  6. Preface. What Is This?
    1. What Is Cryptography?
    2. What Can Cryptography Do?
    3. Basic Cryptographic Functions
    4. Does “Secret” Mean the Same as “Private”?
    5. What OS Should I Use?
    6. How Do I Do All This Stuff?
  7. Introduction
  8. Chapter 1. Using Gnu Privacy Guard
    1. 1.1 Keeping Data Secret, for a Novice GnuPG User
    2. 1.2 The Simplest Example: GnuPG Symmetric Encrypting Text
    3. 1.3 Decrypting a File (Symmetric Key)
    4. 1.4 Encrypting Interactively
    5. 1.5 ASCII Armor
    6. 1.6 Command Summary and Review
    7. 1.7 Review Questions
  9. Chapter 2. Selected FAQs on Using GnuPG
    1. 2.1 Why Use GnuPG
    2. 2.2 Why Start with the Command Line
    3. 2.3 Why Use the Command Line
    4. 2.4 Getting to the Command Line
    5. 2.5 Is GnuPG Even Installed?
    6. 2.6 GnuPG Commands and Options
    7. 2.7 Simple Examples
    8. 2.8 Options: Getting More Information
    9. 2.9 Options: Text or Binary
    10. 2.10 Command Summary and Review
    11. 2.11 Review Questions
  10. Chapter 3. Public Keys
    1. 3.1 Getting Someone’s Public Key
    2. 3.2 Generating a Public Key
    3. 3.3 Why Two Key Pairs?
    4. 3.4 Key Length
    5. 3.5 Key Expiration and Key Revocation
    6. 3.6 Reasons for Key Revocation
    7. 3.7 Generating a Public Key Pair, Completed
    8. 3.8 Exporting a Public Key
    9. 3.9 Command Summary and Review
    10. 3.10 Review Questions
  11. Chapter 4. Public Key Functions
    1. 4.1 Decrypting and Verifying
    2. 4.2 Web of Trust
    3. 4.3 Encrypt and Sign
    4. 4.4 Benefits of Digital Signatures
    5. 4.5 Command Summary and Review
    6. 4.6 Review Questions
  12. Chapter 5. More About Signatures
    1. 5.1 “Decrypting” a Digital Signature
    2. 5.2 More About Signatures
    3. 5.3 Digital Signature Types
    4. 5.4 Signing and Verifying, Summarized
    5. 5.5 Review Questions
  13. Chapter 6. Working with Public Keys
    1. 6.1 Trusting a Public Key
    2. 6.2 Using Keyservers
    3. 6.3 Review Questions
  14. Chapter 7. Editing and Revoking a Public Key
    1. 7.1 Editing Keys
    2. 7.2 Revoking a Key
    3. 7.3 Command Summary and Review
    4. 7.4 Review Questions
  15. Chapter 8. Security Practices and Tips
    1. 8.1 Verifying Software Downloads
    2. 8.2 Passphrases: Doing Them Right
    3. 8.3 Dangers of RAM Cache and Other System Artifacts
    4. 8.4 Full Disk Encryption
    5. 8.5 Encrypting Your System Hard Drive FAQ
  16. Postscript