Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Do you feel like PGP is a good way to cold email people in practice? (I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but that sounds like what you're saying.)



> Do you feel like PGP is a good way to cold email people in practice?

Not OP but I can definitely say that's a yes from me after doing this repeatedly. I cold email people once a month or so, and if it is to do with anything sensitive I'll check to see if a public key is available for them (on their website is best, else I check a public key server and use that key as long as there is only one listed).

I get a better response rate from PGP/GPG users too, I can only recall one not responding to an encrypted message and I sent a follow-up message unencrypted which they responded to.

I think it's important to send PGP messages for ordinary communications whenever possible, because this normalizes it and may increase the workload for those trying to defeat it.


Good question. Not sure. Although I don't see why I wouldn't, if they have a PGP key listed? (I guess there is some question over whether the listed key is actually them?) But my point is that, well, email is a good way to do that, and Signal isn't, so I'm going to use email rather than Signal.

Honestly, I wouldn't focus on (3), because as I see it, if you can replicate the feel of email, things like (1)-(2), so that it can replace email in contexts without (3), then (3) will just come naturally as it slowly replaces email.

Edit: All this is assuming it isn't tied to a phone number or something similar, of course!


How does one list a public PGP key, is there a verified central listing service?


One of the major features of PGP is that you don't have to rely on -- trust -- a "verified central listing service".

The "Web of Trust" [0] fills that role:

> As time goes on, you will accumulate keys from other people that you may want to designate as trusted introducers. Everyone else will each choose their own trusted introducers. And everyone will gradually accumulate and distribute with their key a collection of certifying signatures from other people, with the expectation that anyone receiving it will trust at least one or two of the signatures. This will cause the emergence of a decentralized fault-tolerant web of confidence for all public keys.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_of_trust


In practice a web of trust is only trustworthy 1 degree out from you. Just because you trust someone doesn't mean you should trust the people they trust. The web of trust is a difficult to use misfeature. In theory it's great. In practice it's unusable.


The problem is nobody uses this right


If you control your own domain, Web Key Directory [0] is a good option too.

[0]: https://wiki.gnupg.org/WKD


You can put it on your website or anywhere really. Some people use keybase.io for this.


You can't put it anywhere really, otherwise anyone could tie their key to your identity. Keybase.io is a good solution.


You're technically correct of course.


I guess they mean putting the key on a webpage or using Web Key Directory or a centralized service such as https://keys.openpgp.org


There used to be a bunch of those in the 90s and it was a mess.


"mostly cold" email to a security email address listed on a website is probably the only use I've ever had to PGP encrypting email to someone I hadn't already been communicating with... (But I can imagine other scenarios. I bet Snowden's cold email to Greenwald was encrypted...)


Trust on first use is not an uncommon security practice. Imperfect but in many times the best alternative, and a good solution while we wait for a replacement to gain traction.


Why wouldn't it be?




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: