[Last updated May 13, 2019] JSCAPE MFT Server makes it easy to strengthen secure file transfers with OpenPGP encryption. But before you can protect your files with PGP, you need to create the necessary public/private key pairs. In this post, we introduce you to three ways of doing that.
Option 1: Using the Key Manager
The Key Manager is a module that's only accessible to your system administrator. If you want your end users to generate PGP key pairs themselves, use Option 2. When keys are generated via the Key Manager, those keys can be used anywhere in the system and are typically used in conjunction with triggers. This is how you would carry out this particular PGP key creation process.
Login to the JSCAPE MFT Server Manager and go to the Keys menu.
Navigate to the PGP Keys tab and then click the Generate button.
Enter the following information:
Real name - This should be the full name of the key pair owner, e.g. John Smith.
Email - An email address owned by the key pair owner, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Algorithm - The encryption algorithm you want to use. The options are RSA and DSA. If you want a comparison of these two, read: Which Works Best for Encrypted File Transfers - RSA or DSA?
Key Length - The length of your encryption key. Longer is stronger. However, for longer keys, you may need to install the JCE Unlimited Strength Jurisdiction Policy Files. Need insights for choosing key lengths? Read Choosing Key Lengths for Encrypted File Transfers.
Click the OK button as soon as you're done.
If all goes well, you should then see your newly generated key along with some pertinent information, including: the key algorithm, key capabilities (can encrypt, sign, etc.), and the key's unique fingerprint.
Option 2: Through the User's Web Interface
This option is suitable for situations wherein you would like users to generate PGP keys on their own. Such keys can be used only to encrypt files uploaded to virtual paths that are accessible to the user and have PGP encryption enabled. Assuming you're a user, this is how you would generate your PGP keys.
Login to your JSCAPE MFT Server's web interface.
Once inside, navigate to My Account.
Next, scroll down until you reach the OpenPGP Encryption section. Click the button that says "Generate OpenPGP Key".
Enter pertinent information:
Real name - Your full name.
Email - An email address that you own.
Type - The encryption algorithm you want to use. The options are RSA and DSA. If you want to know more about them, read: Which Works Best for Encrypted File Transfers - RSA or DSA?
Length - The length of your encryption key. Longer is stronger. However, for longer keys, you may need to request your system administrator to install the JCE Unlimited Strength Jurisdiction Policy Files. Need insights for choosing key lengths? Read Choosing Key Lengths for Encrypted File Transfers.
You may also optionally enter a file password to add a layer of protection to your key file.
Click the OK button as soon as you're done.
Once the key creation process completes, a file will be downloaded to your local system. This file is your PGP private key and is what you'll use to decrypt any file that's been encrypted by this key's corresponding public key.
Important! Make sure you place the file in a safe location and remember where you place it. Otherwise, you won't be able to decrypt files that are encrypted by that private key's corresponding public key.
Once you get back to the main/My Storage screen, you'll notice a new directory named .pgp under your home directory.
Then if you navigate into that directory, you'll also see a file named key.pub. This file is your private key's corresponding public key and will be used to encrypt files uploaded to virtual paths you have access to that have PGP encryption enabled. Remember that only one PGP public key may be associated with each account. Generating a new key pair or importing a new public key will overwrite the existing public key file.
Option 3: Using a 3rd party PGP tool
Lastly, you can use any reliable PGP tool. One of the tools I recommend is GPG4Win. It comes with a GUI named Kleopatra. Here's how you use Kleopatra to generate keys.
Launch the app and click the New Key Pair button.
Specify user personal details like a name and a corresponding email. Click Next to proceed.
Review the parameters and, if everything looks good, click Create.
You will then be asked to enter a passphrase to protect your key file. Specify a passphrase and then click OK.
Important: Write down or print this passphrase and then place it in a secret location. You'll need it when you import your private key to the server.
Once the wizard indicates the creation process was successful, click Finish.
You should then see your newly created key pair on the main screen.
To export a key, right-click on the newly created item and click on Export (to export the public key) or Export Secret Keys (to export the secret key).
Once you have acquired the exported file(s), you can then import those into your JSCAPE MFT Server instance. If you scroll back to the screenshots we showed you in the first two options, you'll notice there's a button/link for importing.
In some tools, the exported file will contain both the public key and the private key. If you try to import that file into JSCAPE MFT Server, you may get an error because the server will only be looking for one key at a time (either the public key or the private key). This is usually a problem only if what you want to import is the secret key or private key, which (in some cases) might contain both the public and private/secret key. Importing the public key doesn't pose any problems because when you export the public key on most tools, the exported file will contain the public key alone.
To solve the problem when importing private keys into JSCAPE MFT Server, just open the exported file with a text editor and delete the entire public key block. After that, you can import the file as normal.
That's it! Now you know three ways of generating PGP keys. If you want to try this out yourself, download a copy of JSCAPE MFT Server now.