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PGP and GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid

Cryptography is a difficult topic, but many people are interested in keeping their email communications private. Where can a "moderately skilled geek" find a good introduction that will teach them the practical skills? PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid claims it can help. Quantum Skyline from our own Dev Hardware forums reviews the book.

  1. PGP and GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid
  2. A Textbook on Email
  3. Details of Instruction
  4. Conclusion
By: Quantum Skyline
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 4
May 30, 2007

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As with software reviews, I find book reviews difficult to do.  Depending on the target of the book, I sometimes have a difficult time trying to put myself into a mindset that is required for understanding certain concepts, or explaining to myself why things are the way they are.  PGP & GPG: Email for the Practical Paranoid by Michael W. Lucas is a book which, according to the back cover, is aimed at "moderately skilled geeks who are unfamiliar with public-key cryptography but who want to protect their communications on the cheap."  This is an aspect of the book which I will touch on a few times, and it will be apparent as to why later in the review.

Lucas is the author of several books which include Absolute BSD, a book which has seen much praise at Amazon.  Lucas has also written Absolute OpenBSD: Unix for the Practical Paranoid and Cisco Routers for the Desperate: Router Management, the Easy Way for No Starch Press.  His biography on the back cover describes him as a "network and security engineer with extensive experience working with high-availability systems," and he is a columnist for the O'Reilly Network with articles in several online publications.  He owns blackhelicopters.org, which is quite appropriate considering what he writes about.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have more than a cursory interest in computer and Internet security, and I am familiar with the applications of cryptography to ensure privacy.  I personally think that the use of public-key cryptography is a must when there are certain requirements that are dictated by the situation, and I worry that novices look at cryptography and cryptographic tools as a magic bullet that solves all of one's problems in this area.  Because this book is aimed at those who wish to help with securing their online communications, I was interested in seeing how this kind of information is presented to novices.

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