Question regarding shared keys

Denise Schmid Chinatinte at
Mon Feb 28 08:07:03 CET 2011

> It depends on what you mean by a "shared key".  There is just giving a
> copy of the key to multiple people (in which case any one of them can use it),
> or there are various key splitting algorithms where a key is broken into a
> number of pieces, and a specified subset of those pieces can come
> together, reconstruct the key, and do whatever they need to do.

It is the second.

> The OpenPGP standard (which specifies how different implementations can
> interoperate) does not really specify shared keys, beyond acknowledging that
> they exist.  The PGP *implementation* of the standard, has a shared key
> feature in the break-the-key-into-multiple-pieces sense.

This is what I meant. Does this mean that, if you want to encrypt a file, everybody has to use his/her key? The background of my question is that a company claims that one of their managers has forgotten the key and therefore, they can't decrypt some files. These files contain, of course, some evidence they should produce in a court case. Beside the fact that there seem to exist some ways to reconstruct keys, I ask myself if they didn't need the key to encrypt the files...


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