How to encrypt your email and why to do it?
In a world where your personal data is a highly valuable commodity, it’s become increasingly important to be safe . In other words, to do everything you can to protect data essential to you against prying eyes. And since email continues to be one of the most popular ways to keep in touch with your loved ones and your business partners, you may find it useful to learn how to encrypt an email. Find our tips below!
For sure, you already know that you should never send sensitive information, regardless of its type, via email. Sometimes though, it just simply cannot be avoided, whether in a personal or a professional context. Here’s where email encryption comes in handy – though it isn’t completely fail-proof, more often than not it will do the trick.
Why you should encrypt your email
If you want to safeguard confidential data, you should always strive to make sure your emails are encrypted so that they don’t fall in the wrong hands. Personal data (social security number, banking information, etc.) or business confidential data should always be protected to the highest degree to avoid serious problems, such as money and/or identity theft, and confidential data leaks, respectively.
What many people ignore when it comes to their email accounts, whether it’s personal or business emails we are taking into account, is how great the damage can be in case of a security breach. We all tend to take the email service for granted and just assume that everything we do there is safe and private. But that is not always the case.
Considering that many times very sensitive information is shared through email, such as your bank details and other personal information, it’s important to always make sure that you use a secure email provider.
Using encrypted email always ensures that your data is safe and a lot harder to access by hackers. Considering that even after deleting an email, it can still be found and read by a skilled intruder if you are not using a secure email provider, the importance of email security should be a priority.
When it comes to business emails, things get even more serious. By not using a secure email service or an encrypted email provider, you are exposed to security breaches and data leaks that could end up costing you dearly.
Confidential information about your clients, financial information or business strategies may end up in the wrong hands if the email communication is not secured with encryption.
What is an encrypted email?
An encrypted email is a message disguised in such a manner that no other people, besides the recipient of that message, can read it. Once delivered, it usually requires a specific “key” to unlock its contents.
Email encryption is making your messages impossible to understand to any other parties than your intended recipient. It does this by turning the content you share into “scrambled language” which can only be returned to its original state by a unique cryptography key only made available by the encrypted email provider to the sender and recipient of said message.
These keys, called public keys are available on popular servers that can be used by the sender to encode the message and which would need to also be used by the recipient to decode it.
How to encrypt an email
Learning how to encrypt an email actually means the following.
- Encrypting your email connection. This may be easier than you previously thought: all you have to do is check that your email provider is SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security) certified. That can be easily spotted by checking if the URL of your email provider has an “s” after “http”. If it doesn’t, you can add it yourself and see what happens: if the webpage uploads normally, then you’re safe. If not, it means that your email provider is not SSL/TLS certified. You may want to check the advanced settings menu to activate email encryption or check with your email provider for further info.
- Encrypting your actual email message. To protect your email, you may check the encryption features of your email provider or you can use encryption software or add-ons. You may download programs such as S/MIME or OpenPGP.
- Encrypting your stored emails. When using a PC, you may do this by means of the EFS feature of Windows, for instance, or generally speaking, by checking the settings of your email provider. It might just be that your stored emails are protected by default – if not, more often than not, simply checking the appropriate box in advanced settings tab will do the trick.
Encrypting emails with Microsoft Outlook
Email encryption doesn’t only work on online email services. Desktop email client apps like Microsoft Outlook can also be used to send encrypted messages. The process may be a little trickier but if you are anything like me, you will probably prefer to use this option, especially for business emails.
In order to use email encryption with Microsoft Outlook, you first need a digital certificate which can either be provided by your organization, or can be created by you from the settings.
Once you have that, you just need to go in the Microsoft Outlook options and input a name of choice in the Security Settings Name field, select S/MIME and check the Send these Certificates with Signed Messages
Encrypting emails on mobile devices
Of course, nowadays a great deal of emails is being sent and received on mobile devices. Both Android and iOS offer different options when it comes to email encryption.
How to encrypt emails with iOS
Well, it literally couldn’t be easier because S/MIME support is already built in the default email app. All you need to do is go into the advanced settings section, turn S/MIME on and switch “Encrypt by default” to Yes.
How to encrypt emails with Android
Things are a little more complicated with Android, but nothing unmanageable. One thing you can do is simply download an app like CipherMail which will allow you to send and receive S/MIME encrypted email directly via Gmail or other third party apps. Another option would be to use PGP/MIME , but this option requires both an app and a keychain to store certificates.
Using email encryption providers
Another option is to simply use an email provider which offers encryption by default. Most regular free email accounts offer decent protection for an average user, but if you want more and just don’t have the time to deal with the encryption yourself, you may choose one of the providers below:
All these encrypted email providers offer a much higher level of protection when it comes to your online communication. They are perfect choices for small companies so that all members can safely communicate and share confidential data amongst themselves without needing to worry about security breaches that would affect the business.
Now that you know the general rules of email encryption, you may go ahead and check that your email connection is secure and that both your future emails, as well as your stored ones are safely kept away from malicious eyes.