With increasing privacy threats over the internet like NSA monitoring all your activities and threats of cybercriminals you must be thinking about your privacy and security protection steps. These days we share our sensitive information through email like our bank account information, Paypal account is connected to email, your private conversations with friends and family and even you don’t email your confidential and sensitive information like social security numbers, banking info, business secrets, and so on even then you need to protect your email data, so if you ever get scared imagining about getting all these information in the wrong hands then you must need encrypted email service or program and now you can do that here how.
Why Should You Encrypt Your Email?
With the increase in security and privacy threats whether by NSA and other government security agencies which read your private email conversations, monitor your internet activities etc. the best thing to is to protect your privacy and be encrypted. Encryption is a wise idea in such a world where even the government and surveillance agencies are eager and keen to keep no concept of individual privacy, it can definitely keep your important data safe and secure with a password or encryption key that is safe within you or the people you trust and keep you and away from the prying eyes of snoopers or cyber criminals. In this article, we will guide you how you can encrypt your email conversation using desktop client like Thunderbird and Postbox and how to encrypt all the email provider you use (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Google Apps etc.)
What to Encrypt?
To keep your email secure and private and to keep it away from the access of any snooper you need to encrypt it in three ways; the connection from your email service provider, your current actual email messages; and the stored, cached or archived email messages. If you don’t encrypt the connection of your email provider and keep checking and sending the messages the other users on your network can steal your email login credentials and any messages you send or receive especially when you frequently use public Wi-Fi while sitting in a shopping mall or a restaurant there is great risk that hackers, spammers or other snoopers might attack and steal your sensitive information so encryption saves you from such serious security threats. Your email messages are in great threat while they travel over the internet which might be intercepted by any cyber criminal like hacker or spammer and your sensitive information can be in wrong hands so encrypting the email conversations before sending them to the receivers make them unreadable even if intercepted or stolen. The saved messages or cached mail messages stored in your device memory must also be encrypted so that others uses your computer or mobile can’t get the access to your sensitive information which can be a major threat to you.
How to Encrypt your Email?
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When you send email messages, they travel from many networks before the actual recipient. These networks can be sometimes unprotected and open or might be in some wrong hands and the data you receive or send or it can be read by NSA and other government surveillance and security agencies to ensure complete and comprehensive email encryption you have two options whether to do it on your own or use a third-party software. Let’s first learn about how you can encrypt your email messages on your own. For that you need to learn the three layer of encryption that you have to implement a comprehensive email encryption procedure and that are;
- Encrypting Email Connections
- Encrypting Email Messages
- Encrypting Stored Email
Let’s start learning how to do do it all and secure all your email conversations.
How to Encrypt Email Connections?
When you access sensitive information pages like your bank account or online payment page you use a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption, similarly when you need encrypt email and protect the connection between your email provider and your computer or another device, you must ensure that the SSL/TLS encryption is active. If it is so, the website address (URL) will begin with HTTPs instead of HTTP; depending on your browser, some other indications of a secure and encrypted connection are, a notification next to the address bar or a small yellow padlock icon on the status bar below the browser window. If you can’t see this you can do it by following these steps;
- Type an alphabet character “s” at the end of the ‘HTTP’ and tap Enter
- If your email provider supports SSL/TLS, that instruction will usually redirect it to encrypted server.
- Then browse your account settings to see whether you can activate encryption by default for future logins.
- If you can’t force the encryption, check with your provider as they may not support SSL/TLS.
How to Encrypt Email Messages?
If you want the email messages you send or receive to be protected or encrypted you must do some task before the time and not only you but the recipient to whom you send messages must also perform some steps ahead of time. For that, you can use encryption features built into your email service, or you can download encryption program or client add-ons (e.g. that uses OpenPGP) for encrypted email. In a pinch, you can use a Web-based encrypted email service like ‘”JumbleMe” or the other ”Sendinc”, but doing so will force you to trust a third-party company.
How to Encrypt Stored Email
The email conversations you send or receive are saved in the computer or the mobile device you use to ensure the privacy level of such messages you can use the built-in feature of the email provider you use or else you can use a third-party encryption software which will provide protection to your backed-up email messages and keep them safe and away from snoopers and hackers etc. However, it is highly recommended and the best solution to implement encryption to the whole computer or laptop.
Encrypted Email Providers
Protonmail is a famous secure and encrypted mail application which is free and easy to use. It provides end-to-end encryption to enhance privacy for your email messages. It offers Modern Inbox Design for easy to use and organize the bulk messages with high-end security. It provides the following features; Data Security and Neutrality, Automatic Email Security, Free Secure Email, Security without the hassle,Protect Your Privacy, and Security with Productivity.
Hushmail is one of the most popular encrypted email service providers. After creating a Hushmail account, your email message is stored in encrypted form and decrypted with your password. Emails transferred between Hushmail users is encrypted and decrypted automatically. If you’re cross emailing, you can use a secret question for that person, and he must answer to decrypt your email.
VaultletMail, part of the VaultletSuite programs, is a OS standalone installer program instead of a web app. If both users are using VaultletMail accounts, email messages are completelty encrypted while in transmission. If you are emailing a user using a different encrypted email service, you can use the feature of VaultletMail’s SpecialDelivery system.
Enigmail is a free extension for Mozilla Thunderbird like different plug-ins available for other popular email programs. To use Enigmail, you’ll have to install Enigmail extension on Thunderbird and the GNU Privacy Guard software both for your operating system.
Non-encrypted Email Provider
Some email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook etc. have no specialized encryption model but support some encryption features in their emails which are discussed below in detail.
Encryption in Gmail
In 2014, Google planned email encryption feature and claimed that all the email you send using Gmail account is automatically encrypted, but only if the recipient you are sending the email is using Gmail if they use any other email provider like Outlook, Yahoo etc. then the messages are sent unencrypted. To send an encrypted email you’ll need to install a third-party email encryption client and then follow the instructions. You can install third party extension on chrome like mailvelope to send encrypted email.
Encryption in Yahoo mail
Yahoo mail doesn’t provide automatic email encryption for some years and in the past users had to opt for the encryption feature, but in 2014 Yahoo enabled auto email encryption.’ ”Anytime you use Yahoo Mail—whether it’s on the web, mobile web, mobile apps, or via IMAP, SMTP or POP—it is completely 100% encrypted by default and protected with 2,048-bit certificates,” said Jeff Bonforte, senior vice-president of communication products at Yahoo, in a blog post. “This encryption extends to your emails, attachments, contacts, as well as Calendar and Messenger in Mail.”
Encryption in Outlook
Microsoft email app Outlook has a very complicated setup procedure for email encryption where you’ll need to do is exchange digital signatures with your recipient to unencrypt the messages. To create these you’ll need to follow the Secure email messages by using a digital signature guide on the Microsoft site, after that done you need to follow these few steps;
When you are finish writing your email then just before hitting the send button go to “Options” settings then select “More Options” >Message Options>Security Settings>Encrypt message contents and attachments.
Your email message is now encrypted and can only be readable by the recipient to whom you shared the encryption key and security certificate mentioned above.
Windows Encryption Tools for email
There are some built-in Windows features by which you can compress the documents or files in an encrypted folder and then can email those to anyone you want and share the encryption key only with them this way your specific files in that folder remain secure and can’t be seen or read by anyone accessing them without an encryption password. This can be done by using;
WinZip & WinRar
WinZip and WinRar are Windows-based utilities that can save disk space, by compressing them and make it available with less storage space it also provides the feature to put a password so that no unauthorized person can access such files on your system or even when shared via email, but these both can also be used to transfer personal images, videos, sensitive documents or other personal files compressed and zipped and password protected then attached and send to the people you want to share the information with, make sure you must share password you set on the folders that you share via email with the recipients you send the email to.
Email encryption is a powerful method to ensure comprehensive privacy and security of your sensitive messages and files travel through email conversations as it protects your Financial Information and personal information to be sure and even if shared with the wrong person by mistake it is protected and unreadable, so protecting all your email messages can be a little work which needs a little attention as well but the benefits are uncountable and it is the need of the current time to be on the safe side always.