Differences: OpenPGP vs. X.509

Robert J. Hansen rjh at sixdemonbag.org
Wed Jan 14 00:24:26 CET 2009

Stefan X wrote:
> If a web-of-trust is also possible with X.509 I am wondering, what are
> the remaining differences between both formats?

>From a capability perspective?  Not very much, really.

>From a technical perspective?  The differences are large enough that
your best bet is to read the respective RFCs.

> AFAIK file encryption and signing seems not be possible with X.509 which
> can be used for e-mail only.

Sure it is.  As a simple case, what happens if you send a file to
yourself and pull it down with POP3?  It gets stored on your hard drive
in ciphertext.

You can certainly use X.509 for file encryption.  Very few people do,
but that's a much different thing from there being mathematical or
engineering obstacles to doing it.

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