Information Security Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for information security professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a key pair stored in GPG Keyring. If I export it to an ASCII Armored format, am I removing any layers of security as long as the exported key stays on the same server as the key ring itself? My private key is still secured by a passphrase even after export.

For someone who breaks into my server is it equally easy to crack my exported key as the Keyring?

share|improve this question

migrated from Aug 22 '14 at 11:47

This question came from our site for software developers, mathematicians and others interested in cryptography.

They are both just files on disk, so any difference in how the two files are protected is left to the OS. – Jeff-Inventor ChromeOS Aug 12 '14 at 22:33
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about tools that happens to be using cryptography, not about the underlying cryptography itself. Since it is about the security properties of these tools, it would be best on Information Security. – Gilles Aug 16 '14 at 21:49
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If the same access rules are used, and if you don't have to input your passphrase then by definition it is as safe as when it was in the key ring.

If you do have to insert your passphrase then the key may be decrypted and then encrypted back again. In that case you've got two possible security issues:

  • the key bits have been exposed after they have been decrypted with the password (which means that they may have been left in some kind of storage such as RAM or cache);
  • the key may be encrypted with a different, less secure algorithm.

Finally, you should also be sure that the file hasn't changed meaning, e.g. if it is copied as another key you may be fooled into typing the password for it.

share|improve this answer
Thank you, that was very helpful. – MickJ Aug 19 '14 at 21:21

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.