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PGP: Pretty Good Privacy Paperback – 11 Dec 1994

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (11 Dec. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565920988
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565920989
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,264,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Simson Garfinkel, CISSP, is a journalist, entrepreneur, and international authority on computer security. Garfinkel is chief technology officer at Sandstorm Enterprises, a Boston-based firm that develops state-of-the-art computer security tools. Garfinkel is also a columnist for Technology Review Magazine and has written for more than 50 publications, including Computerworld, Forbes, and The New York Times. He is also the author of Database Nation; Web Security, Privacy, and Commerce; PGP: Pretty Good Privacy; and seven other books. Garfinkel earned a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1988 and holds three undergraduate degrees from MIT. He is currently working on his doctorate at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 April 2001
Format: Paperback
PGP is an excellent piece of software. When this book was published, I am sure that it was an excellent book. Unfortunately it is now so out of date that it does not justify its cost.
The early chapters on cryptography, the history of public key systems, and the development of PGP are very good, worth reading and account for the 2 stars I have given this book. However, some of the information is now out of date, and anyone interested in a more up-to-date history of public key cryptography would be better served by buying Steven Levy's "Crypto".
The second part of this book deals with the use of PGP, and since the version described in the book is FIVE versions out of date, nearly all of this information is useless.
This could be an excellent book for anyone interested in public key cryptography who wants to get the most out of PGP. However, until Mr. Garfinkel updates it to cover the latest version, it will remain an expensive introduction to a fascinating subject and an incredible piece of software.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Naga on 22 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is now old, and the section dealing with PGP is out of date.

However, it is of great historical interest in the field of cryptography. At the time of publication, Phil Zimmerman (the author of PGP software) was being hounded by the FBI for exporting "munitions", as cryptographic software of that capability was classified at that time, and it was illegal under US law to make such software available outside the USA. The case was eventually dropped. Zimmerman resisted at great personal cost as he felt privacy was a fundamental human right. He is a great hero in the cause of free speech. Just look at PRISM and the abuse of our privacy today!

It has an excellent section on general cryptography, although as the WWW has developed, much of these data are covered elsewhere, and for free.

Interestingly, the British services had invented the algorithms that PGP uses long before, but in the interests of secrecy had kept quiet about it!

Well worth reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Pretty Good history of PGP 14 Aug. 2000
By Jim Carson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The first half of "PGP: Pretty Good Privacy" is devoted to cryptography basics and the history behind PGP. It's certainly interesting reading, especially seeing how the relationships among the players developed. If you're interested in this background, then this book is for you.
The second half explains PGP usage and where you can find it online. Unfortunately, a lot of this seems dated -- however, to be fair, the book is over five years old. You'll probably be better off with another resource such as the included documentation.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A good PGP and cryptography primer 28 Jun. 2003
By Doug M - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
PGP is a fascinating tool. Most see PGP as a way of sharing files, but the creator of PGP, Phil Zimmerman, really want to make a *privacy* tool. I did not realize this and other things until reading this book.
O'Reilly's PGP book can be divided into two sections. The first section is really a history of cryptography and how PGP fits in this context. I found this section surprisingly enjoyable as you learn about the long and tortuous struggle between the NSA and people who want to promote freedom and privacy. On a more concrete level though, you do learn quite a bit about different encryption algorithms and key algorithms, such as the RSA and Diffie-Hellman as well as other concepts important to cryptography. Admittedly, the history itself makes for pretty interesting reading.
The second section is about PGP usage, and it is very thorough in its coverage. You will learn just about every possible feature in PGP, and how to apply them to a number of possible situations. I like reading this book over the PGP manuals just for the time and care put into it, if not the amusing examples.
One thing other reviewers have rightly touched on is the age of the book. TIme has passed. The RSA algorithm is now free and open, and PGP clone called GPG is now in wide use. I am definitely excited to see a 2nd edition of this book in hopes that it will cover such things.
However, regardless of the age, this book is an excellent primer into PGP and cryptography culture, and newbies like me will certain enjoy reading it.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Not up to O'Reilly's Standards 3 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My usual rule is to buy anything published by O'Reilly--it's always worth it. Not this time.
Garfinkel's book is extremely basic. It covers the same ground as the PGP documentation, but not as well. Worse, it's badly out of date by now.
A much better bet is to read the online documentation for GnuPG, the free PGP clone, at [...] If you use UNIX, you should use GPG instead of PGP anyway: PGP has a wonderful interface under Windows, but has really stagnated for UNIX users.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Dated but useful nonetheless 7 Sept. 2000
By Keith Tokash - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book gives an excellent account of how encryption came into the hands of non-spooks (and I don't mean Clipper). But what really matters is the legacy information on how encryption works. This information hasn't changed since. It also gives the reader a solid base of understanding of what PGP is doing when you use it.
The book is also quite simple to read, so much so that I felt guilty for "studying" a book that was so easy that I could blow through a chapter in twenty minutes. One final note of importance is that because the book is old (94), it is UNIX-centric, which is quite refreshing in today's environment of applications written exclusively for Windoze.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Yet another O'Reilly masterpiece 4 Feb. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having read a poor review of this book on Amazon, I was a little reluctant to purchase. However, it appears that the addage of "one mans meat is another mans poisen" holds true here. Perhaps it is because I am new to pgp, but I really enjoyed the history portion of the book. I also found the descriptive part of this book to be exactly the information I needed to start putting pgp to good use. Without hesitation, I would recommend this book.
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