best practice for handing over the private key

Henry Hertz Hobbit hhhobbit at
Fri Aug 2 17:32:52 CEST 2013

On 08/02/2013 01:31 PM, Martin T wrote:
> Hi,
>> Your description sounds, to me, as if you are only generating a key for the other persons use.
> Not quite. At the beginning I need to use those keys myself in order
> to create the needed database objects. Once those are done, I need to
> hand over the private key to other person. So basically I'm generating
> a key pair for other persons use which I need to use myself at the
> beginning.
> So you mean that my correspondent sends me his public key, encrypted
> to my public key which he finds from the key-server, in an e-mail.
> Then I generate the key pair needed for the project. Finally I encrypt
> the project private key with his public key and e-mail this encrypted
> private key to him. Once he confirms that he has received the project
> private key, I will delete the project private key from my machine as
> I do not need it any more. Is that what you meant?

I don't know if that is what John meant but this makes me far happier.
I was concerned about the secret (private) key which I assumed you
were creating via either a --export-secret-subkeys or a
--export-secret-keys was being sent en-transit unencrypted.  But
the way you just said it here sounds optimal in protecting the secret
key en-transit.

If he wants only the secret / public  key pair (does not want a
personal key pair), the encryption and zipping of the secret key
for en-transit could be done with 7-zip's AES-128 cipher which avoids
a chicken versus egg problem and still gives some measure of securing
the secret key en-transit:

Send the password for the zip separately and preferably after the
secret key is sent.  If you send the keys in snail mail on a USB stick
use something a little sturdier than an envelope like a small box
with foam peanut shipping padding.

Wait a little longer than you think is necessary before deleting the
secret (private) key just in case something goes wrong.

But the way you just said it sounds best to me.

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