Ever since its introduction in 1991, PGP has reigned as the preferred method for encrypting e-mail and files. Many versions and improvements later, PGP Personal for Windows 8.0 is now a full-featured encryption suite that integrates with Windows XP and most popular e-mail programs. This version includes features such as PGP Mail, which encrypts and digitally signs e-mail messages, as well as the new PGP Disk feature, which allows you to set aside an encrypted area of disk space for storing your sensitive data. Although PGP can be daunting for those unfamiliar with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) programs, it remains the de facto standard in encryption technology. Whether you choose the free version or the $50 Personal edition, PGP 8.0 is a must-have for anyone who is truly serious about keeping data and e-mail communications private. Our installation of PGP 8.0 was smooth and painless. The installer recognized the e-mail program, then asked permission to integrate PGP with it. Once installed, PGP adds a padlock icon to your desktop system tray for quick access to the program. Your e-mail application, where you'll probably use PGP the most, also provides immediate access to PGP.
PGP 8.0's preferences offer many customization options.
The biggest drawback to PGP is its fairly steep learning curve--a problem due more to the inherent complexity of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology than to PGP's interface. PKI technology encrypts files and messages with a user's key and works in conjunction with scrambling algorithms to produce data that can be decrypted by only its intended recipients. A public key is openly shared with recipients, while a private key never leaves your own computer. The security comes from knowing that recipients can open only messages encrypted with your private key. PGP 8.0 supports the open standard OpenPGP, which means that you can share encrypted files with anyone using a program that handles exchange OpenPGP keys and messages. All this may sound straightforward, but if you're new to asymmetric encryption, the initial setup of PGP could take a while.
Although PGP Personal for Windows 8.0's primary function is to integrate with popular e-mail programs to encrypt and add digital signatures to e-mail messages, the paid version of this software offers some extra, equally useful utilities.
If you just want to encrypt and decrypt e-mail, PGP Personal lets you do that from the new menu choices that have been inserted into your current e-mail program. However, the freeware version of PGP 8.0 doesn't integrate with your chosen e-mail client; instead, you'll have to launch the PGP Mail program separately.
Interface for creating encryption keys.