article about Air Gapped OpenPGP Key

Hauke Laging mailinglisten at
Tue Nov 19 05:02:57 CET 2013

Am Mo 18.11.2013, 17:21:22 schrieb adrelanos:
> Hi,
> An article about air gapped OpenPGP keys has been written by me:
> Please leave feedback or hit the edit button.


> By default GPG creates one signing subkey (your identity) and one encryption
> subkey

That's wrong. The default is a mainkey for signing and a subkey for 

> This new subkey is linked to the first signing key.


> Your master keypair is the one whose loss would be truly catastrophic.

I would not put it that way. If it is just lost then the key will expire (if 
it has an expiration date as it should) as you cannot extend its validity 
time. So you need a new key. That is unpleasant but usually not as unpleasant 
as compromised decryption or signature keys. If you state something like that 
I think you should explain it.

> Using the highest possible value for key length helps protect you from that
> scenario. Don’t use GPG’s default of 2048!

That argument doesn't make any sense for a key "copied to your every day 
operating system".

> If your master keypair gets lost or stolen, this certificate file is the
> only way you’ll be able to tell people to ignore the stolen key. This is
> important, don’t skip this step!

I have never understood why people seem to believe that they cannot safely 
store a key backup (including the passphrase if necessary) but can safely 
store a revocation certificate.

> Clean up our temporary file.

> rm subkeys

Why should one remove this file?

And it it really a good idea to use the same passphrase for both mainkey and 

> The pound sign means the signing subkey is not in the keypair located in the
> keyring.

No, it means that the mainkey has been replaced by a stub.

> Securely wiping of data is a difficult issue. We believe it is safer to
> create a new keypair (a new secring.gpg) than trusting gpg to remove the
> private master key from secring.gpg.

We are talking about a secring.gpg in RAM as the key is generated on a secure 
system running some live Linux CD/DVD?

> Our every day operating system never gets to see our OpenPGP master key

But it sees the mainkey's passphrase...

It will take me some time to translate this in English but I have written a 
bash script which creates a new key with two subkeys and outputs a set of 
files (with different passphrases) and two directories and even allows you to 
easily certify other keys and create mainkey signatures immediately after key 


explained here:

Or download the whole script collection here and run ./

Crypto für alle:
OpenPGP: 7D82 FB9F D25A 2CE4 5241 6C37 BF4B 8EEF 1A57 1DF5
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