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Pretty Easy Privacy (pEp)

Contributor(s): Michael Cobb

Pretty Easy Privacy (pEp) is an open source encryption tool designed to make it simple for users to protect their online communications by automating the processes required to do so.

Once installed, pEp (pronounced like the word “pep”) automatically generates encryption keys for the user or imports them from a local PGP  (pretty good privacy) client. The software encrypts communications even if the recipient has another PGP or S/MIME client installed rather than pEp.

The pEp email plugin uses color-coded trust indicators, which indicate the degree of security possible with a given contact. Yellow-level  contacts require RSA keys of at least 2048-bits and cannot be dependent upon certificate authorities (CA). Although that degree of encryption is considered technically safe, there is no guarantee that a yellow-level communication has not been compromised by a man-in-the-middle attack. Contacts who don’t offer that level of encryption are designated as “gray.”

Green, which indicates the top level of security, requires that sender and recipient exchange pEp-generated safe words over the phone to verify that the communication has not been intercepted.

For an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, the developers created an Outlook plugin. They announced plans to develop plugins for other programs, as well, which would allow users to continue using their familiar programs normally but with added messaging security. Other plans included a mobile app that would function as a central, secure hub for communications from social apps, such as Facebook and Twitter.

This was last updated in January 2016

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