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Chapter 8. E-mail Security > Alternatives to PGP

Alternatives to PGP

Although this chapter has focused on PGP, you should realize that other options are available to you. As we mentioned, systems that are similar to PGP exist, operating on a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). Whereas PGP operates on a Web of Trust, the commercial PKI-based systems operate through Certificate Authorities (CAs).

The PGP Web of Trust distributes the responsibility of maintaining valid and legitimate public keys among the community of PGP users. This has advantages such as the freedom to change keys at will and the freedom to set up and use keys. The disadvantages of the Web of Trust model include the security problems that exist with distributed key management. It is not always easy to tell whether a person's public key is valid and current. Sometimes it takes an experienced PGP user to be able to look at a key and tell whether it is legitimate. An important point to remember is that just because a PGP public key is signed doesn't mean it is valid.


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