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Keep your personal data safe by taking the time to encrypt your emails. February 14, 2012

Posted by Ian in Internet.
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With the government threatening to do all kinds of things to the internet, and stories about email and phone hacking surfacing all over the world, there’s never been a better time to start protecting your online privacy. Email encryption is one way of keeping your personal data safe.

Encryption services or third-party software encrypt emails by making them unreadable to anyone other than the intended recipient. When you encrypt your email, you have a public key (usually a mixture of numbers and letters) that others can use to send you encrypted email, and a private key, which you then use to decode the email.

When sending encrypted email to someone else, you need to know their public key in order to keep the email secure. You can either get this from them personally, or find it by searching the online key servers.

Encrypted email isn’t widely used outside of sensitive situations – such as political or business dealings – however, it can help protect your personal and financial information from prying eyes. Below are some of the tools you can use to encrypt your email and protect your personal privacy.

Hushmail

Hushmail is a stand-alone email service that enables users to send and receive encrypted emails through their Hushmail address. If you are new to the concept of encryption or aren’t very tech-savvy, Hushmail does all the leg work for you: once you’ve set up a Hushmail account, all you have to do is remember your passphrase.

Enigmail (Thunderbird)

Enigmail is a plug-in for Mozilla’s Thunderbird email application. Once you’ve downloaded the extension, create your public and private keys, and a passphrase. You can also generate a revocation certificate, which invalidates your public key in the event that your private key is compromised.

Gmail Encrypt (Firefox)

The Gmail Encrypt extension for Firefox only works with Gmail accounts, and you need to install Greasemonkey before you can use it. Once installed, the extension works in a similar way to Enigmail: you create public and private keys, as well as your own passphrase to access the Gmail Encrypt service.

GPG (Apple Mail)

This open-source plugin for Apple Mail encrypts, signs and verifies emails sent and received through the Apple Mail client. The plugin is compatible with Lion and has an integrated update mechanism, which means you automatically receive GPG updates using Apple’s software update system.

GnuPG and PGP

GnuPG and PGP are two types of software you can download onto your hard drive. After installing the software on your computer, you can use it to create keys and encrypt messages sent through certain email clients.

Email encryption only works with the computer on which you have installed the encryption software, add-on or plug-in. If someone sends you an encrypted message through Gmail and you try to read it on your phone or another device, you won’t be able to decode it.

Although it’s not impossible to decode an encrypted email, using this service will help secure your personal information. To make your email encryption as fool-proof as possible, always check the recipient’s public key before sending – if you get the key wrong, the information inside the email could end up in the wrong hands. Some encryption services don’t encrypt the subject line so include sensitive information only in the body of the email.

 

 

From : How to Master Email Encryption

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