HOW TO: Create a Self-Decrypting Archive in PGP Desktop 8.x

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Article ID: 180109

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Symantec Products

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Resolution


This article describes how to create a Self-Decrypting Archives in PGP Desktop 8.x.


A Self-Decrypting Archive (SDA) is an encrypted, executable (.exe) file created by PGP. This feature allows a PGP user to create an encrypted file which may be sent to, and decrypted by, a user who does not have PGP. When a PGP user creates an SDA, they are prompted to specify a passphrase for the SDA. In order for a recipient to decrypt the SDA, its creator must, in some secure manner, communicate the passphrase chosen at the time of the SDA's creation.

 

  • An SDA may not be opened (decrypted) in a platform which differs from the one in which it was created, i.e. if the SDA was created in a Windows operating system, it may not be opened in a Macintosh operating system (and vice versa).
  • An SDA allows a PGP user to create an encrypted file which may be sent to, and decrypted by, a user who does not have PGP, but it only works one way. It is not possible for a user (who does not have PGP), to send data encrypted.


 

Create an SDA 

There are 3 different ways to create an SDA in PGP 8.x. Each method will be described below.

Method 1: The Create SDA option

 

  1. Right click on the file which will become the SDA.
  2. Point to PGP, then click Create SDA.
  3. Enter and confirm a passphrase for the SDA, then click OK.
  4. Confirm the filename and location for the SDA.

    Caution: Do not change the extensions of the file, it must have an extension recognized by Windows, as well as the .sda and .exe extensions.

     
  5. Once the desired filename and location are chosen, click Save.

At this point the SDA is ready to be sent to its recipient (don't forget to tell the recipient the passphrase chosen in step 3).

Method 2: The Encrypt option

 

  1. Right click on the file which will become the SDA.
  2. Point to PGP, then click Encrypt.
  3. At the very bottom of the Key Selection Dialog which appears, check the box labeled Self Decrypting Archive (the Conventional Encryption box will be checked automatically).
  4. Click OK.
  5. Enter and confirm a passphrase for the SDA, then click OK.
  6. Confirm the filename and location for the SDA.
  7. Once the desired filename and location are chosen, click Save.

At this point the SDA is ready to be sent to its recipient (don't forget to tell the recipient the passphrase chosen in step 5).

Method 3: The PGPmail option

 

  1. Open PGPmail (click Start > Programs > PGP > PGPmail).
  2. When the PGPmail toolbar appears, click the button which has the lock and envelope icon (the Encrypt button).
  3. Browse to, and select, the file which will become the SDA, then click Open.
  4. At the very bottom of the Key Selection Dialog which appears, check the box labeled Self Decrypting Archive (the Conventional Encryption box will be checked automatically).
  5. Click OK.
  6. Enter and confirm a passphrase for the SDA, then click OK.
  7. Confirm the filename and location for the SDA.
  8. Once the desired filename and location are chosen, click Save.

At this point the SDA is ready to be sent to its recipient (don't forget to tell the recipient the passphrase chosen in step 6).