[Enigmail] Keeping the private key in a safe place

John Clizbe John at enigmail.net
Sun Jan 22 21:50:20 PST 2012

Robert J. Hansen wrote:
> On 1/22/2012 1:36 PM, Alex aka Soyouth wrote:
>> I have another naive question, I understand that keeping the private
>> key safe is of great importance. How can I copy it onto a cd that I
>> will store safely at home, alongside the recovation certificate for
>> the public key, in the event that my computer dies or get stolen ?
> At a command prompt, type the following all on one line.  (This is
> correct for Ubuntu 10.04; for other operating systems it will need to be
> slightly changed.)
> $ gpg --armor --export-secret-keys > $HOME/Desktop/secret_keys.asc
> You can then copy the my_secret_key.asc file, along with the revocation
> certificate, to a CD or a flash drive or what-have-you.  Some people
> keep them in a safe place, others in a safety deposit box.  For a long
> time I kept mine with my lawyer, with instructions for what to do in the
> event of my death or incapacitation.

You may also wish to look a paperkey by Dave Shaw. Dave is one of the GnuPG
developers.  paperkey prints out the essential parts of a secret key to be able
to reconstruct it later. Note this also assumes you have a copy of the public
key available -- another reason I like the keyservers.

The revocation certificate may also be printed out, but is a bit more involved.

John P. Clizbe                      Inet: John ( a ) Enigmail DAWT net
FSF Assoc #995 / FSFE Fellow #1797  hkp://keyserver.gingerbear.net  or
     mailto:pgp-public-keys at gingerbear.net?subject=HELP

Q:"Just how do the residents of Haiku, Hawai'i hold conversations?"
A:"An odd melody / island voices on the winds / surplus of vowels"

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