What is ASCII Armor?
ASCII Armor is a binary-to-text encoding converter. ASCII armor is a property of encryption known as pretty good privacy (PGP). ASCII armor encodes encrypted messages in ASCII so that they can be sent in a standard message format such as email.
The rationale behind the ASCII armor for PGP is that the original PGP format is binary, which some of the most popular message formats do not consider to be very readable. When the file is formatted in American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), the binary file is converted to a printable character representation. The handling of the file volume can be done by compressing the file.
Although the ASCII armor is a functional part of PGP, some developers and others are concerned about the potential for hacking in this system. One major problem, often referred to as ASCII Armor Parser Vulnerability, relates to the idea that a cleverly constructed ASCII armor independent signature file could be used as a sort of Trojan horse to introduce a replacement DLL that could activate a virus. This is seen as one of the main gaps in an otherwise very effective encryption method.