German government engineers open OpenPGP for Windows

* Pgp4win include plug-ins for Outlook servers and clients

If you run a mostly Linux-based network with some Windows machines, but want to standardize on open source data encryption tools on all your platforms, now you can.

Users of the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPGP) data encryption software can now apply the technology to Windows-based systems with pgp4win, a tool being released to the open source community next week by the German government.

"GnuPGP is the GNU project's complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard as defined by RFC2440," according to the GNU Web site. The software allows users to encrypt data streams and manage public encryption key directories. The software is managed via a command line interface and can be applied to applications such as e-mail, Web pages and other software through freely-available libraries. Tools that come in gpg4win include plug-ins for Microsoft Outlook 2003 servers and clients, and a plug-in for encrypting files on Windows-based PCs.

Pgp4win brings all of this to Windows. For example, in an organization that might run OpenPGP or GnuPGP on a Linux server, but also has Microsoft for e-mail or other back-office platforms, pgp4win could provide a standardized way to encrypt network application traffic in an organization.

The German government has been at the forefront of developing Linux and adopting open source in its IT operations. In 2004, it developed its own German Government Linux Desktop distribution for use in its administrative offices as an alternative to Windows PCs. The government also works closely with IBM, which provides its Linux-based hardware and consulting services.

For information in English on pgp4win, go here. (Although English documentation for the tool is limited at the moment, developers say more material translated into English is coming soon.)

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