Using Gnu Privacy Guard (GnuPG/PGP) within ASP.NET [v1.0]

Author: Emmanuel KARTMANN

Date: November 1st, 2002

Environment: .NET, ASP.NET, C#

Keywords: GnuPG, PGP, Cryptography, Thread, Process, Command Line Program

GnuPG Wrapper

This article presents GnuPGWrapper v1.0, a wrapper class for GnuPG.

GnuPG stands for GNU Privacy Guard and is GNU's tool for secure communication and data storage. It can be used to encrypt data and to create digital signatures. It includes an advanced key management facility and is compliant with the proposed OpenPGP Internet standard as described in RFC 2440. As such, GnuPG is a complete and free replacement for PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).

This article provides a C# wrapper class (GnuPGWrapper) that will enable use of OpenPGP Internet encryption standard within a .NET world. It is shipped with a demo ASP.NET Web Form (GnuPG.aspx) which calls the wrapper class.


Prerequisites: Procedure:


GnuPG ships as a command line program (gpg.exe) acting as a filter (reads from standard input and writes into standard output). Although suitable for scripting on UNIX systems (where calling a command line program from "sh" or "bash" is easy), it's pretty hard to integrate this in a production .NET environment.

The GnuPG Wrapper executes the command line program (gpg.exe) in a different process, redirects standard input (stdin), standard output (stdout) and standard error (stderr) streams, and monitors the streams to fetch the results of the encryption/signing operation.

The GnuPG Wrapper:

Please note that you must have INSTALLED GnuPG AND generated/imported the appropriate keys before using this class. Refer to the GnuPG manual to do this...

Sample Code

In order to use the wrapper class, you need to proceed as follows:
  1. Create an instance of the class
  2. Set the "command" property to the requested command (SignAndEncrypt, Encrypt, Decrypt, Sign, Verify)
  3. Optionally, set parameters for the command (home directory, originator, recipients, etc...)
  4. Call the "ExecuteCommand" method with input/output strings variables

The next sections show sample source code for the most command operation (SignAndEncrypt, Decrypt, Verify).

Error Handling

Error handling is done via a specific Exception class; method "ExecuteCommand" raises this exception whenever an error occurs. You calling application can handle this exception as follows:

	using Emmanuel.Cryptography.GnuPG;

		GnuPGWrapper gpg = new GnuPGWrapper();

		gpg.homedirectory = "C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\GnuPGDotNet\GnuPG"
		gpg.passphrase = "My passphrase is so cool I can't remember it"
		gpg.originator = "";
		gpg.recipient = "";
		gpg.command = Commands.SignAndEncrypt;

		// Execute GnuPG
		string outputText = "";
		gpg.ExecuteCommand("This is a test message.", out outputText);

		// Display output text

	catch (GnuPGException gpge)
		// Display error message
		ErrorMessage.Text = gpge.Message; // Contains a clear text error message, either from the wrapper or from gpg.exe itself

Real-Life Deployment

This code is deployed in a real-life e-commerce web site that uses GnuPG to communicate with some of its partners securely (

About GnuPG and PGP

This class has been developed and tested with GnuPG v1.2.0 (MingW32).

You can check the command line manual page for gpg.exe

For more about GNU, please refer to
For more about GnuPG, please refer to
For more about OpenPGP (RFC 2440), please refer to
For more about PGP, please refer to


Download source and demo - 535 Kb


Date Posted: November 1st, 2002