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PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid Paperback – April 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593270712
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593270711
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An excellent book that shows . . . just about everything [you] need to know to effectively and properly use PGP and OpenPGP." -- Slashdot, June 26, 2006

"Buy and read this book to gain a better understanding of how to protect and secure . . . messages from unauthorized viewing." -- About.com, June 12, 2006

From the Back Cover

"...The World's first user-friendly book on email privacy...unless you're a cryptographer, or never use email, you should read this book." —Len Sassaman, CodeCon Founder

"Today, most email is sent like a postcard. We all should want to put our mail back into secure envelopes again. PGP and GPG are two of the leading tools to make that happen." —Brad Templeton, Chairman of the Board, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Governments worldwide, major manufacturers, medical facilities, and many of the smartest computer experts around trust their secure communications to PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). But, while PGP works amazingly when all is in order, it isn’t always easy to configure and can be very tricky to troubleshoot. And email security is hardly the sort of thing you want to leave to chance.

PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid is for moderately skilled geeks who are unfamiliar with public-key cryptography but who want to protect their communications on the cheap. Author Michael Lucas offers this easy-to-read, informal tutorial on PGP, so you can dive in right away.

Inside, you’ll learn:
• How to integrate OpenPGP with the most common email clients (like Outlook and Thunderbird)
• How to use the tricky command-line versions of these programs
• How to join and use the Web of Trust

If you're not using PGP yet, this book supplies the confidence you need to get started. And if you are, it will show you how to use these tools more easily and effectively.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
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See all 21 customer reviews
It's very well-written in a clear, *concise* manner.
James Holmes
PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid by Michael Lucas is a wonderful introdution book for anyone that wants to learn more about OpenPGP.
Dan McKinnon
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in PGP, GnuPGP, or any of the related technologies.
Roger A. Grimes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By James Holmes on May 9, 2006
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.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bejtlich on August 8, 2006
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dan McKinnon VINE VOICE on June 30, 2006
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!

***** HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Z. Fosdyck on June 18, 2006
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 9, 2006
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Michael W Lucas is from Detroit, Michigan. He's worked as a network engineer, systems administrator, library cataloger, and gerbil wrangler. You can find his Web site at http://www.michaelwlucas.com, his blog at http://blather.michaelwlucas.com, and on Twitter as @mwlauthor.

"Michael Lucas is probably the best system administration author I've read. I am amazed that he can communicate top-notch content with a sense of humor, while not offending the reader or sounding stupid. When was the last time you could physically feel yourself getting smarter while reading a book?" -- Richard Bejtlich, TaoSecurity

"For me, reading this book was like having one of the guys in my company who lives and breathes Cisco sitting down with me for a day and explaining everything I need to know to handle problems or issues likely to come my way. There may be many additional things I could potentially learn about my Cisco switches, but likely few I'm likely to encounter in my environment." -- IT World

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