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E-mail security using Mutt and GPG


encrypted message to you, encrypts it with your public key. You can also

sign your message so that others can verify your identity as the

creator of that message using your public key.

It's very important that you select a strong passphrase that is

difficult to guess. You should never store it anywhere apart from

your memory.

3) You should now make a copy of your public key, which is 'ascii-armoured'

so that you can distribute it to everyone:

$ gpg --export --armor your_user_id

A better way to do this is to create a fingerprint with

$ gpg --finger your_user_id

You should also register your key with a PKI (Public Key Infrastructure)

server, such as:


4) After creating the keys, get public keys of all people you know, and

add them to your keyring with:

$ gpg --import

Its very important to set the trust level of keys that you import, for

setting up your 'Web of Trust'. This is easily done with:

$ gpg --edit-key

This will give you a prompt as given below.


Here, you should type trust, and follow the on-screen prompts to set

the trust value for that key.

5) At this point, your basic gpg setup is complete, and you can use mutt

to send signed or encrypted email. Once you've composed your message,

you can select whether to encrypt or sign the message by pressing

'p'. This gives you various options.

* encrypt

* sign

* both

* sign as

Select sign to sign your message, or encrypt to send an encrypted

message, or any other option as per your liking.

If the recipient exists in your keyring, mutt will use the correct key


You will need to enter your passphrase before signing your message


6) If you want to sign all your outgoing mail, you can add the following

line to your .muttrc

set pgp_autosign=yes

mutt remembers your passphrase for a default time of 5 minutes. You can

change this with

set pgp_timeout=600

After the timeout, you have to enter your passphrase again to sign

outgoing mail. If you want mutt to forget the passphrase for the