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Creating a key pair

After reading the information on Gpg4win's security features and the creation of a good passphrase to protect your private key, this section shows you how to create a key pair.

The processes of key creation, encryption and decryption are very important - so important that it should be possible to practice ... and this you can actually do:

Run through the whole processes as often as you want. These "dry-runs" help you gain confidence in using the program, so that some of the more intricate steps in creating keys will not pose any problems later on. You can use Adele to do this. It is a test server which was developed as part of the GnuPP project. Adele allows you to try and test several practice keys before creating your own set.

Let's get started!

Start the GPA program from your Windows Start menu:

The following window appears:

Click on [Generate key now].

For practice purposes you can enter any name in the window for

now, e.g. "Larry Smith".

Or you can generate your 'real' key in which case you should enter your real name.

When you are done, click on [Forward].

Now enter your email address.

Again, if this is a test run, you can use an imaginary email address such as "larrys@gpg4win.de"

Or you can enter your real email address, and click on [Forward].

This option allows you to enter notes regarding your key. Usually this field is empty; however, if you are creating a test key, you should make a note, such as "test". The notes are a part of your User-ID and will be made public along with your name and email address. Now click on [Forward].

Entering a passphrase is one of the most important steps in the program, as the program is only as good (and as secure) as your passphrase!

Chapter 4 ("The Passphrase") from the manual "Gpg4win for Advanced Users" already provided you with suggestions on creating a secure passphrase, so at this point you should have come up with your own passphrase - one that is private, easy to remember, and difficult to crack.

Enter your passphrase now.

If the passphrase you entered is not very secure, a warning will be displayed, allowing you to enter a more secure passphrase.

Again, you can enter a test passphrase for practice purposes, or

your real passphrase.

Once you have entered your passphrase twice, click on [Next].

This starts the creation of your key pair, which can take a few minutes. In the meantime, you can continue to work with other programs on your computer which will slightly increase the quality of the key being generated.

Once the key is generated, the following window appears:

This window asks you to create a back-up copy of your key. Please do this now, even if this is just a test run.

If the default file name is acceptable, click on [OK]. If you would like to store the back-up in a different location, please select a different file name now.

Important: Once the the back-up file is saved onto your hard

drive, you should save this file onto a removable storage device (e.g. USB stick, diskette or CD-ROM), and subsequently delete the original file. Be sure to keep the storage device in a secure place.

Please note that you can create back-up copies at any time by selecting the following option from the main menu: Key -> Backup.

This concludes the installation of Gpg4win and the generation of your key pair. You are now the owner of a unique and secure digital key.

You should now see the GPA's main window. The key pair you just created will be shown in the middle of the window, beside the key pair symbol.

Clicking on the key pair symbol will provide details about your key pair, which are discussed in more detail below.

What is the significance of the notes regarding your key? Your key has no built-in expiry date and is therefore valid indefinitely. You can, however, change the key's validity period - more about this later.

A key consisting of 1024 bits is considered very secure, without creating undue strain on your computer's capacity.

==> More information on this topic can be found in Chapter 5 "More about keys" in the manual "Gpg4win for Advanced Users".

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