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PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid Paperback – Apr 25 2006

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
You don't need to understand everything about modern cryptography to use OpenPGP successfully. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Great resource for understanding and using PGP/GPG May 9 2006
By James Holmes - Published on
Format: Paperback
This really is a terrific book if you're at all interested in learning how to secure information. It's very well-written in a clear, *concise* manner.

Two great introductory chapters lay out the fundamentals of cryptography and OpenPGP in plain English. There's nice coverage on terminology, the differences between OpenPGP/PGP/GPG, and the basics of using them.

The first chapter has also got a terrific chart laying out specific actions for things you want to do with your messages, like "I want to send a message that only my intended recipient can read" which is answered by "Encrypt the message with the recipient's public key." Much of the rest of the book follows this same clear vein as the author moves through the details of implementing PGP/GPG.

The book is full of small tidbits of very useful information, such as considerations for selecting expiration periods for your keys, or how to decide on what levels of trust to give family and friends, or even how to increase your paranoia by worrying about whether or not a hardware keystroke probe is monitoring your passphrase as you enter it.

The sections covering implementation of GPG are particularly well done. GPG isn't the easiest thing to work with, but Lucas does a great job of pointing out potential pitfalls and working readers past the rough spots.

A terrific work that lays out lots of good information in a small, well-written package.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Must-have PGP and GPG book Aug. 8 2006
By Richard Bejtlich - Published on
Format: Paperback
PGP & GPG is another excellent book by Michael Lucas. I thoroughly enjoyed his other books due to their content and style. PGP & GPG continues in this fine tradition. If you are trying to learn how to use PGP or GPG, or at least want to ensure you are using them properly, read PGP & GPG.

Content-wise, PGP & GPG covers just about everything I would like to see in a book on encrypting email. Lucas addresses Windows and Unix options, both commercial and open source. I only paid real attention to sections on GPG and the Thunderbird Enigmail extension, since that is what I use.

Style-wise, PGP & GPG is incredibly readable. Email encryption could be a dense topic when covered by another author. Lucas addresses the right points, in the right order, with the right attitude. He's one of my favorite authors in this regard. Certain tips he shares, like setting keys to expire annually, or CC'ing yourself when sending encrypted email, or mentioning smart cards for keys, really make a difference. I agree with previous reviewers who liked the task-oriented chart on p. 14 -- that is awesome.

PGP & GPG is definitely a winner. The word "practical" in the subtitle could easily apply to the message of this book.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Introduction to PGP June 30 2006
By Dan McKinnon - Published on
Format: Paperback
PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid by Michael Lucas is a wonderful introdution book for anyone that wants to learn more about OpenPGP. What it is, where it's been, where it's going and why it's important in the high tech world, this is the perfect book. At 180+ pages in length this is the kind of overview book that I would expect to get. Nothing bulky with 1,000 pages, this is the kind of book that can be opened up and read in a short amount of time, while providing a massive amount of content about PGP. Anyone that wants to learn more about encryption and specifically PGP would be wise to pick up this book, nicely done!

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Sorely needed manual. June 18 2006
By Z. Fosdyck - Published on
Format: Paperback
In this book Michael W. Lucas has put together a guide to email privacy that is very useful and accessible. One of the few technical books that not only informs but makes for a fairly engrossing read as well. The explanations of how and why in the first two chapters make the book worth the read in themselves. His descriptions of the advanced concepts are precise while still being easy to understand. My only real criticism of the book is that it's sort of lacking information on *nix GUI tools. Overall, he does an excellent job of covering use of this software.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Finally! Updated coverage on PGP and GPG... May 9 2006
By Thomas Duff - Published on
Format: Paperback
It's nice to see someone write a usable reference guide to PGP/GPG that's not 10+ years old, referring to versions of the software that don't exist any more. Even better in that it's an enjoyable read... PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid by Michael W. Lucas.

Contents: Cryptography Kindergarten; Understanding OpenPGP; Installing PGP; Installing GnuPG; The Web of Trust; PGP Key Management; Managing GnuPG Keys; OpenPGP and Email; PGP and Email; GnuPG and Email; Other OpenPGP Considerations; Introduction to PGP Command Line; GnuPG Command Line Summary; Index

When I last had any interest in PGP, you could download the PGP package from just about anywhere and everything was run from the command line. Now PGP is the commercial version of the package, and the OpenPGP implementations are the ones you get and use for free. Lucas does a very nice job in explaining the differences between the commercial and open source implementations, as well as how the commercial implementation's GUI makes much of the command line hassle a thing of the past. On top of covering the GnuPGP version of the open source option, he also covers Windows Privacy Tray, or WinPT, which provides an add-on GUI to GnuPG. The email chapters show how PGP can interface to Microsoft Outlook Express, Microsoft Outlook, and Mozilla Thunderbird. Being a Lotus Notes/Domino user, I would have liked to know about any potential integration packages there, but I'll overlook that slight. :)

Another positive feature about the book is that he doesn't stop at the nuts and bolts of the software. By going into the basics of cryptography and the "Web of Trust" for identity verification, Lucas helps the reader understand the mindset of privacy and the responsibilities one has once they join into that community. Granted, PGP/GPG is nowhere close to being a package that Aunt Mabel will install and understand. I think that by choosing to use this type of encryption, you already have a fair understanding of which end is up. But armed with the proper knowledge and mindset (which you'll get here), you'll be able to make a much stronger contribution to the common good.

If you use PGP or have wanted to venture down that road, or if you're dealing with information that might not be viewed favorably by certain authorities (regardless of what you may morally believe), you should get a copy of this book. It'll save you time in trying to piece it all together on your own, and it's light-years ahead of the other (aged) books on the subject.