15-410 PGP page
You will generate a public/private key pair and turn in the public key information with the remainder of your homework assignment. Of course, you will need to retain the private key so you can sign documents and/or receive encrypted mail.
Because it is impractical to memorize and type in random 128-byte quantities, your PGP private key will be stored in a keyring file, encrypted with a symmetric key. Anybody who guesses that key can assume your identity, meaning they can read your encrypted files and also sign documents as if they were you, so it is vital that you choose an industrial-strength super-password, called a pass phrase.
Choosing a pass phrase is not a process to rush through, as you must come up with something which is very hard for others to guess but very easy for you to remember. Just as you wouldn't change your password right before going away on a trip, you shouldn't generate a pass phrase before going to sleep, for example.
You will be provided with directions for vaguely protecting the AFS directory which will hold the encrypted version of your key ring, but you should be aware that the truly paranoid might never store their key ring in AFS since it is an unencrypted medium outside their personal control.
If you intend to use this key permanently, it would be more secure for you to generate and use it on a cluster workstation than on a public server machine, and even more secure for you to generate and use it on a machine privately owned by someone you trust.
Finally, while these directions suggest creating unlimited-expiration keys, if you feel uncomfortable with that, you may select an expiration date for your key pair, though it should be no earlier than the week after grades are due.
Can you use GPG instead of PGP? Sure.
Step 0 - Pass phrase
You need a pass phrase to protect your DSS secret key. Your pass phrase can be any sentence or phrase and may have many words, spaces, punctuation, or any other printable characters.
Choosing a good pass phrase is something of an art. It should be both easy to remember (so you don't have to write it down) and hard to guess. It should be long enough that it contains a reasonable amount of entropy (so that the key will be good), but short enough that you can usually type it without making mistakes. The term "pass phrase" is intended to remind you that it should be longer than a single word -- there is no practical limit on the length of your pass phrase.
Visit one or more of these web sites and read up on the various philosophies of pass phrases:
Take 10 or 15 minutes to come up with a good pass phrase. Make sure you can memorize it, and drill yourself on it two or three times a day for the next week, then once a week for "a while".
Step 1 - Protect your .pgp directory% mkdir ~/.pgp
% fs sa ~/.pgp $USER all -clear
Step 2 - Run PGP to generate your key pair
First we will generate a DSS (signature-only) key pair, and then a separate Diffie-Hellman key pair which will be used for encrypting files or mail.
% /usr/local/bin/pgp -kg Choose the public-key algorithm to use with your new key 1) DSS/DH (a.k.a. DSA/ElGamal) (default) 2) RSA Choose 1 or 2: 1 Choose the type of key you want to generate 1) Generate a new signing key (default) 2) Generate an encryption key for an existing signing key Choose 1 or 2: 1 Pick your DSS ``master key'' size: 1) 1024 bits- Maximum size (Recommended) Choose 1 or enter desired number of bits: 1 Generating a 1024-bit DSS key. You need a user ID for your public key. The desired form for this user ID is your name, followed by your E-mail address enclosed in
You should use the name you wish to be known by, and the email address that you will use. When others sign your PGP key, what they are really doing is creating a signed "certificate" which asserts that your key and userid belong together. In addition, the PGP tools and keyservers are able to do searches based on partial userid's, so by including both your name and email address, you make your key easier to find.
Our grading script will expect you to use $USER@andrew.cmu.edu as your e-mail address. Please bear with us for the purpose of completing this assignment; if you are already a PGP or GPG user and have a key pair with a different e-mail address, or would prefer your "real" key pair to be signed with some other address (e.g., $USER@cmu.edu), please play along with us for this assignment--you can have as many key pairs on your key ring as you wish.
Enter the validity period of your signing key in days from 0 - 10950 0 is forever (the default is 0): 0
This allows you to set an expiration date on your key. Once the key expires, most PGP software will no longer use it for encryption, or trust signatures created by it. Common practice is to use the default unlimited lifetime, and to issue a revocation certificate if the key is lost or compromised.
You need a pass phrase to protect your DSS secret key. Your pass phrase can be any sentence or phrase and may have many words, spaces, punctuation, or any other printable characters. Enter pass phrase: Enter same pass phrase again:
There is NO WAY to recover your secret key if you forget your passphrase.
PGP will generate a signing key. Do you also require an encryption key? (Y/n) y Pick your DH key size: 1) 1024 bits- High commercial grade, secure for many years 2) 2048 bits- "Military" grade, secure for forseeable future 3) 3072 bits- Archival grade, slow, highest security Choose 1, 2, 3, or enter desired number of bits: 1 Enter the validity period of your encryption key in days from 0 - 10950 0 is forever (the default is 0): 0
The encryption key pair will use a variant of Diffie-Hellman key exchange called "El Gamal".
At this point you have told PGP what to do. Since it is absolutely crucial that the key pair be truly random, PGP will ask you to provide it with random events for a period of time. It will ask you to type for a while. The keys you choose to press do not matter in the sense that they do not become part of your key. However, while you type random characters, PGP captures a fine-grain timestamp each time you press a key; the low-order bits of those timestamps are collected and used to feed a random-number generator.
Make this the default signing key? (Y/n) y
Step 3 - Turn in your public key as part of your homework
Normally at this point you would publish your public key as widely as possible. You would put it on your web page, in your .plan file, hand it out to your friends, etc. You would also probably publish your public key on the world-wide PGP key server network by submitting it at http://pgpkeys.mit.edu/.
However, the CMU community is a diverse one. For all we know, one of you is from a country which would consider publication of a PGP key in your name a subversive act (even though anybody could do it at any time to smear you--governments often don't understand that sort of subtlety).
Hence we will not require you to publish your key. For the purposes of the homework assignment, we will ask you to turn in a copy of your public key, which we do not intend to publish. During the reading/finals period, we hope to organize a key-signing "party" for interested parties, but that will not be part of this homework assignment.
% /usr/local/bin/pgp -kxa $USER@andrew.cmu.edu /afs/cs.cmu.edu/academic/class/15410-s15/usr/$USER/hw2/$USER.asc
The -a option tells PGP to emit the public key in "ASCII Armor" format, which encodes the binary information in text which should pass through mail, web forms, etc. So feel free to look at the file as you turn it in.
Step 4 - Send us a message
Here is the 15-410 public key (you trust it coming from this random
web page, don't you? Wait a minute, do you need to trust it,
or not? When? Hmm...). You can import it into your keyring
by cutting and pasting it into a file and running:
-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.5 (FreeBSD) mQINBEz2BgIBEADIgtP3LRE2h8IRiV5uQwBgIU0YNwAM+TqIVgJIuknh3MnAf4Va OeJdQnZKaD09h7oDPVKffvuVQml22Q38jKRSJmvet/pDVrJvvH2YkkVTgkGSEHci Nm8ZKsol4uZDV9dFC7e1FFWL0BX6DoWcS2IHyHoJfLGwQzmh+yMgIWgNqQFT7LA2 GN7LTFthzC8xoQCBoT3zxvHGvUJEh4HFW0YudBjTsvtFgKHspZ5vaMENPnE8nUKd 5V+XK5sdgcfrtO9toJEM57P7fnYUwf8I42S3g773kX6Jwucsnj0eWfzGexN8w2pm z90tBXnAHZt4HaUwJ4jz9pv42PqliDbaWizs9FsNy8nokCIGoGjG2YETyl6sjltI Q7Svgr9wBB+MvP+PX/Z2BCzElcOFdDJiKL5XH5I3gLB9uKdwlEqRfZyIBjB5KZW9 0yLQGR2INeQWtrInXziJ0Vh8Ul/Wx8GrkGYmac7FUAZKK6RKu6KEHjeOvYcjdqRq IXyw4PtAiRgG1i5wugDkmXnk6Bpi1Ftq7MkkQaGKC52hisbfDoU56+O/tvQK3c4d cuvHfMTBhvJADUzscJNcXWt8Upc/Q1QzQPbdSdYc5yKq4oOSTuwKa7bB7cd+Zp79 T3/aZpLqWMTP3C1tW68EIHryrrped9d3gAQV3hk4e+Aol92UKAXzaezuhwARAQAB tCMxNS00MTAgc3RhZmYgPHN0YWZmLTQxMEBjcy5jbXUuZWR1PokCNgQTAQIAIAUC TPYGAgIbAwYLCQgHAwIEFQIIAwQWAgMBAh4BAheAAAoJEPL/wmyd1hXtFJMP/3Mb gsDxLIOmwLB4MUezb1aJ4dCua4j/ZNnk2wu9nQxRhC5vRYf/fbnrbkrl5v+WnUCC OhRE9w8ZBoLrUrjqKM+tunaAd4mBSBGrEjsriyRouVcMO49kWr/1mY11IHjZdXup nNQ9dhlXMjNo+SKVNuGLDW9nSwG9hrd+d3KvfzoFm1SoKy0oBnnrclNAofkrnlJU JvkZBhK6uMDR1/aVi2BWbEDQBD7XjUD6mK8CPzSMn67uc7F2ZDw5GZJl2ad6XRCj uOobbjFsrReXt8lzpHA9Hy8Spfxq9lOWY15E7mdL/GUD1PuY5JzgHigFe0r0dAaw NwhmmwQzWP3HiqO+swc/OWWwNw1xsXFWMIQ462YPwftS2JXZxlyAK2mcvVXccbsh Ey73s1GCZltTJ1zre00EldjmMVdCOUGI/L/m1t1jPdZ25pPIGXdO9XKAt7FdIwb2 o1XO28K3nk5GXyLyo2LZgdJDR1xVU6dbsR0f+vWGJhmk5HusQ2m4DZg/+/sOCtbx yIlF71mtI7gTD52KwFMN1+/webmbWREgK7X8xnZnlZzVb0wgxxzcv3XypsAsLUAZ AUNg9Hv99EHtaK6sqv7yCRTty0RFEfY6fhIva2NityzPciHmVMeUES2q5acZRePi 0pH7aqrQBHNOI7nInc6ttaB3kMX8QIe8ALw/gtCDuQINBEz2BocBEADJET8nDs6l tZSsJPlwsUNneN5jrPelUe7lllnCiZr0MOh2TcoVLSJ00QwvI/IMVd6Sncv3USbq 9ms1tVsVkc9riJ/9cZLWV7O3RxbwrRI/IapKyhh0OhePkXQj+hyAzNc8bO1CzzAd QAdcPIC8lPGjpVTrTNGgaO7FLJQ/l7GS09F9YcSK7zuK9BhKW+XtWWwUt94cl0Va JWA1CuRoGsxbK8294J0LD2hPU73YkRG8BcdMI34QAeJoqe3tHvGO50mnFgJtxl7R N+ZHzWTVLyeuhCOe0XU1bu7z0dfX/ioCl395YVSRTpmiAp+fvt6Z8u+7aWnAFRfu ezteIlEZQcxU8XbxC4Esg8tKsFQEMJOve9gX0XdFv/sm6d0lCVMTYZShSaUrqrkY tg5Pzz3fMGHdN5kHQqpUdU26rCLnTS+6SM0iw/sI/uSBdTwewEtJ4nO+4UKKthQR KRc1nFgS0x8yp+sINKbH8BcX6BLb179ONg531n8mob2CVyLVQBsX/fhmbil+l0FL YkYtWW2OvNvYBu8zZtDyQnL1AcOuubiCvzpHHUGswNGGSjD16RzI+gCBl3TyS8d2 Xlt7LFMvT5/V/RxMovXjj2scqwzNIVyZzv0JIl66oXIKS409oIVzQSrkiW/MkxU+ AJyNzziVpqv6ADMQigfS8ea8xELG5sE7uwARAQABiQIfBBgBAgAJBQJM9gaHAhsM AAoJEPL/wmyd1hXtbA4P/i38fIIw0eWwyfuNYD2qf997oIGuKH2eQ4zVs+Ofn/yK TThOlPNqYAYAXshSnV1uuTjAn8iF76+D0TS3LoBkNcmw4ravUcWtWbNy1sqrNSEd XdBb5n37sfARWb8wLQzstzT1GJNIUDxBSKTA7j4c/LWK2R9CnkIg2L/aCaodU7jK lSTszwN/c/GCiirLK2oQUEZj/oujwbQYyt1Alb7205ma0uwsB/PeWDXXsKwbOlQN PlGAibOwenJG0zedBiCCbykiBeM8c0OrVLHtmyhqVjbMoz7NMLBqxL81AHMl1YV8 HAFkQfTY20Soy9LPGo8q1jMv6ehUfFCL5mDpHLKYQFrGzrAUILG1+s80u1fDyuIz 8qWkB9ixYdp8TXgm2puqNWLPHPUYbq6ZBUJTwtGiAl8U8q99jK9RMmI+rVdbfYnx bdh1FesekDXrFtoE8ghHq0Rgu8M/HD3f7QHocS/VlWBjEh5xPExXjZYyNeJTKyNC +eClITWcY8iVX7zK5xsyfoKq2Ol+DlofbcgO+oa/o/F+L3dQ3oKxy1o/tLm4Q4p0 m/82jwPljFVmBD/pxeIEHG25ogYn0ub9cvQgRgEF6T2YDOTjVgCXmrC6bboIcFs0 RoO885aU2+R9sTCySHtwQuO1JozA7KWmmUUQ6PEhkWRu6mzWX9vMLfkTnOdA2+VN =rscA -----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
Now create a "secret" message for the 15-410 course staff.
Put it in a file called "secret" and encrypt/sign it:
This will create a secret.asc which will be signed by you
and decryptable by the holder of the 15-410 private key (and by
you, which is why you are mentioned on the command line).
Turn this file in as
Once we have your public key in our key ring, we will be able to verify
that you signed the message, and decrypt it for viewing, by running
Since $USER.secret.asc contains a symmetric-cipher message key, used to encrypt the actual text, which is then public-key encrypted with your public key and also with ours, you can decrypt the file for viewing using the same command.
There, now you understand public key cryptography!
[Last modified Monday December 04, 2006]