Browse by Topic: PGP Encryption
The PGP keyring, and importing public keys
Last modified on 07 May 2017 01:35 PM

With PGP encryption, two separate keys are used: a public and a private key. The public key is used by the sender to encrypt a message. The private key is used by the receiver to decrypt a message. Whereas the public key is available to the public, the private key is only known to the receiver and has to be opened with a secret passphrase. Both the public and private key are stored on a PGP keyring.

In order to send an encrypted email via StartMail using PGP keys, your recipient’s public key must be stored in your PGP keyring in the form of a keyfile. This can be done in three ways through the web interface.

1. Public key from other StartMail users

When you email another StartMail user with a PGP key, their public key will automatically be added to your PGP keyring.

2. Automatically import a public key from a non-StartMail user

When you receive an email (from a non-StartMail user) that has a public key attached, you can import the key directly from the email. (Note: Public keys are not sent out automatically when using encryption. You would have to ask this person to send you their public key through email.)

  1. Click the Import Public Key button directly from the email.

3. Manually import a public key from a (non-)StartMail user

You can manually import a recipient’s public key into your PGP keyring. This needs to be done for non-StartMail users who have provided you with a copy of their public key, but can be done for anyone who sends you a public key, including other StartMail users.

To import a public key into your PGP keyring, you'll need a copy of the user's public key. This is usually provided as a plain-text file with a .asc extension attached to an unencrypted email.

To import the public key into your PGP keyring, follow these steps:

  1. From a Web browser, log in to your StartMail account.
  2. Click the Settings link from the top right corner of your StartMail page.
  3. From the Settings menu, select Mail Encryption.
  4. Select the Import button.
  5. Paste the public key you wish to import in the text box provided. You want to include all of the text that appears between the following headers, as well as the text of the headers themselves:
-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
mQINBFZh78ABEACxpqFdzSKAxLOo4guvPt8Fr9xcjYm68F8Alm9ZAAd13MBa4wZX
myF0aiNgL6AGPpizYxYLQGCC6N9wqAs+yp5eEGiVOU5HaovN1C/ejENeyckbnL0o
ps2wVu4Oj0vuGg8UCHkblCvAchUa3888H6ZVIRXEFsO2qVlqvNuNW/mIcNL846Cq
3VCOByIuU01+e8NP8F8WWIHNTtKABAn4rpy612+3a1jHDdiEtouNR2wJTxPBoXCV
aTPhBl49QUlR8BV5r...
-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

6.  Select the Import Public Key button.  A confirmation message will be displayed.

Once these steps are completed, you'll be able to send encrypted emails to users from within StartMail without needing to use Q&A encryption. For more information on encryption, please read this article. 

To learn how to send an encrypted email, please visit this article.

Note: IMAP clients do not connect to StartMail's public key store, so public keys for IMAP recipients need to be managed separately using the PGP tools available for your IMAP client. Consult the documentation for your IMAP client/PGP application for instructions on how to import and manage public keys.

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