I understand that it is possible to combine symmetric and asymmetric encryption in a way that makes use of the performance of symmetric encryption, and also getting the benefits of being able to separate the knowledge needed for encryption from that needed for decryption.

Could someone explain this scheme in more detail?

To be concrete, I want to encrypt a few tens of thousands of files at a time, including some that are ~100GB in size.

  • gpgtar .... man page Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 21:05
  • will those files be transmitted over the internet or just encrypted and stored locally?
    – Bokis
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 21:26
  • @Bokis: they will be stored locally.
    – kjo
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 21:52
  • 1
    Keep in mind, if you are using something based on OpenPGP, this might already be done for you security.stackexchange.com/a/162001/90657 Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 1:26

1 Answer 1


To get the benefits of both types of encryption algorithms you can create a symmetric key to encrypt the data efficiently and then encrypt that key asymmetrically. Only the private key owner can decrypt and have access to the symmetric key.

  • 1
    Agree, but you should find an existing tool to do this for you, rather than rolling your own. :-)
    – Ben
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 22:30
  • 1
    gpg does this already... use -r to encrypt the symmetric key with the recipient public key... Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 22:47

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