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Old 10-30-2007, 09:41 PM   #1
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Key Security: Symmetric Encrypting Individual Files

If I am using 'gpg -c --cipher-algo AES256 filename.tar' to symmetrically encrypt a .tar archive, is there a key file somewhere on the hard disk? What I mean is, if someone stole my computer, and the filesystem itself wasn't encrypted, would they even have to bother trying to guess the passphrase, or is there a file similar to the private key that is created for RSA that can just decrypt anything?

Old 11-01-2007, 06:40 AM   #2
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They may try guessing passphrase
Old 11-01-2007, 08:27 AM   #3
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afaik (I could be wrong on this), most apps that use symmetric key encryption and prompt you for a password generate a key based on a hash of that password. At least, the utility "aes" does that.

In that situation, the password is the source of the key, which means a weak password => an easy-to-get key. However, no key file would be stored on disk.

You might give it a try and check if your keychain changed as a result of it...
Old 12-28-2007, 04:29 PM   #4
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Totally forgot I'd posted this Thanks for the responses.

OK, so even if someone gained root access to my computer, they would still have to know the passphrase to decrypt a symmetrically encrypted file?

Old 12-30-2007, 02:25 AM   #5
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That is correct. But if someone gained root access to the system, they'd likely be able to use a wide variety of methods to get your password or get around it next time you accessed the file in question. Basically, there's no security on a compromised system. All you can do is prevent the system from being compromised or detect when it is.


aes, encryption, key, management

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