PGP Encryption: A Simple Guide for Beginners

PGP Encryption: A Simple Guide for Beginners

PGP is a significant email security technique that plays a crucial role in securing the contents of emails & ensuring the protection of data.

Phoebe Brown

Phoebe Brown | Jun 12, 2023 | 4 mins read

Privacy and security are of utmost importance, especially when it comes to online communication. One of the most secure ways to protect your messages and emails is by using PGP encryption. PGP stands for “Pretty Good Privacy” and it’s an encryption protocol that’s been around since the early days of the internet.

If you’re an iPhone user, you might be wondering how you can use PGP encryption to protect your emails and messages. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up and using PGP on your iPhone.

For using PGP, one needs an application that supports PGP Encryption. Canary Mail is an email client that supports PGP encryption and SecureSend for email privacy.

How to generate PGP keys

Canary Mail offers automatic key management as a default feature to ensure a seamless and convenient user experience. However, for those who prefer manual control over their encryption keys, Canary Mail provides the flexibility to adjust settings accordingly.

To access the key management functionality, launch the Canary Mail application and navigate to Settings > Security > Manage Keys. Within this section, users have the ability to manually configure the encryption keys that will be utilized to secure their emails.

PGP Encryption Process

public key encryption

  • Generate a PGP key pair: Use reputable PGP software to generate a PGP key pair that includes a public key and a private key.
  • Share your public key: Share your public key with the intended recipient(s) via a secure method.
  • Import recipient’s public key: Import the recipient’s public key into your PGP software.
  • Encrypt the message: Use your PGP software to encrypt the message you want to send to the recipient.
  • Sign the message: Sign the encrypted message with your private key to ensure authenticity.
  • Verify the recipient’s key: Verify that the recipient’s key is valid and has not been tampered with.
  • Send the message: Send the encrypted and signed message to the recipient.

Decryption Process

pgp encryption

  • Recipient decryption: The recipient will use their own PGP software to decrypt the message using their private key and verify the message signature using their public key.
  • Key management: Properly manage and store your PGP keys to maintain the security and integrity of your encrypted communications.

Why is PGP an essential component of email security?

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is considered an essential component of email security due to several reasons.

First and foremost, PGP provides end-to-end encryption for email communications, ensuring that only the intended recipient can access and decipher the content of the message. This prevents unauthorized individuals, including hackers and eavesdroppers, from intercepting and reading sensitive information.

Furthermore, PGP utilizes asymmetric encryption, also known as public-key cryptography, which involves the use of two keys: a public key and a private key. The public key is used for encryption, allowing anyone to encrypt a message meant for the recipient, while the private key is used for decryption, ensuring that only the recipient with the corresponding private key can decrypt and read the message. This cryptographic mechanism guarantees the confidentiality and integrity of the email content.

Another key aspect of PGP is digital signatures. By using the sender’s private key, PGP enables the creation of a digital signature that accompanies the email. This signature verifies the authenticity and integrity of the message, confirming that it was indeed sent by the claimed sender and that it has not been tampered with during transmission. This feature safeguards against impersonation, forgery, and message alteration, thus ensuring the integrity and trustworthiness of email communications.

Moreover, PGP supports a web of trust model, which allows users to verify the authenticity of public keys by associating them with trusted individuals or entities. This network of trust enables users to validate the public keys of their communication partners, reducing the risk of falling victim to impersonation or man-in-the-middle attacks.

Why should you use PGP?

Here are some reasons why one might choose to use PGP:

Confidentiality: PGP uses strong encryption algorithms to ensure that the contents of your messages remain confidential. When you encrypt a message with PGP, only the intended recipient with the corresponding private key can decrypt and read the message. This is particularly important when sending sensitive information such as financial details, personal data, or confidential business communications.

Data Integrity: PGP utilizes digital signatures to verify the authenticity and integrity of the message. The sender signs the message with their private key, and the recipient can verify the signature using the sender’s public key. This ensures that the message has not been tampered with during transmission and that it indeed originates from the claimed sender.

Authentication: PGP allows individuals to prove their identity online by signing their messages with their private keys. The recipient can verify the signature using the sender’s public key, thereby confirming that the message comes from the expected source. This can be particularly useful in situations where trust and authenticity are crucial, such as in business communications or online transactions.

Protection against eavesdropping: PGP encrypts the content of your messages, making it extremely difficult for unauthorized individuals or entities to intercept and understand the information. This helps protect your communications from eavesdroppers, including hackers, government surveillance, and other malicious actors.

Secure file sharing: PGP can be used to encrypt files and documents, providing an extra layer of security when sharing sensitive information. This is especially valuable when sending files over insecure networks or using cloud storage services, where data privacy is a concern.

Privacy preservation: PGP allows individuals to maintain their privacy by securing their electronic communications. By using PGP, you have control over who can access and read your messages, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or surveillance.


PGP is an important encryption feature from the security point of view. To access PGP, Canary Mail makes the best effort to make it as easy as possible.

Phoebe Brown
Phoebe Brown

As a British writer and productivity coach, I’m passionate about unraveling the intricacies of email, SaaS, and artificial intelligence. With a knack for making the complex simple, my work empowers individuals and teams to harness these tools for maximum impact.

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