Email encryption is the step-by-step process of encrypting the content of email messages that helps you protect sensitive information from being read by cybercriminals or unintended recipients looking to steal valuable information.
Email encryption also helps you to mix up the contents of an email. Once the content is encrypted, the only person with the relevant key can unlock and read it. The public key infrastructure is popularly used for encrypting and decrypting emails.
In this tutorial, you will learn:
- What is Email Encryption?
- How to Encrypt Emails in Outlook
- How to Encrypt Emails in Gmail
- How to Encrypt Emails on iOS
- Encrypted Email Providers
- What are the benefits of encrypted email?
- What are Burner’s email addresses?
- Types of Email Encryption
- How does S/MIME work?
- PGP email encryption
Microsoft Outlook is compatible with the S/MIME protocol. However, it requires an additional setup.
I am encrypting emails or outgoing messages, which is a pretty straightforward process in Microsoft Outlook once the certificate is installed.
Perform the following steps to encrypt an outgoing email in Outlook:
Step 1) First, create a new email and write out your message in your Microsoft Outlook mail compose window. Then add your file attachments.
Step 2) Now, select the dropdown for Encrypt from the menu.
- Click on Encrypt
- Fill the recipient’s name and subject line in the corresponding fields.
Step 3) Click on Send.
Gmail already has S/MIME built into the app, but it only works if both the sender and receiver have it enabled.
NOTE: This feature is only available to Google WorkSpace users who are using the Enterprise plan.
Here is a step by step process on how to encrypt emails in Gmail:
Step 1) Enable hosted S/MIME. You can enable this setting by following instructions to enable hosted S/MIME in Gmail.
Step 2) Compose your message normally.
Step 3) Next, click on the lock icon to the right of the recipient.
Step 4) Click on “view details” to modify the S/MIME settings level of Encryption.
When changing the encryption levels, you need to note the color codes:
- Green: If this color shows, then your information is protected by S/MIME encryption which can only be decrypted with a private key.
- Grey: The email is protected with an encryption level. The message only shows if both the sender and recipient have TLS capabilities.
- Red: The email has no encryption security.
iOS devices also have S/MIME support built-in as default.
Here are steps to encrypt emails on iOS:
Step 1) Go to advanced settings and switch S/MIME on.
Step 2) Then, set “Encrypt by Default” to Yes.
Step 3) While composing a message, click on the lock icon next to the recipient.
Step 4) You need to click the lock icon to encrypt your email.
Email encryption can be done manually or by a secure encrypted email service. These email service apps offer encrypting emails and contact lists. They do this in the background, so you do not have to worry about doing it manually.
Some notable Encrypted Email providers are:
ProtonMail is an email service that provides security through end-to-end encrypted emails. It can be used on any device without installing the software or getting any certificate.
- You do not require entering any personal information or need any password to create a secure email account.
- It has a modern inbox design that helps you to read, organize, and sent encrypted emails in a better way.
- This email service provider gives 500MB of storage space.
- You can send more than 150 emails per day.
Namecheap is a secure and fast email hosting system designed for business and personal needs. It helps you to collaborate with other people with ease. This mail hosting service provider allows you to manage multiple email accounts for a single user.
- Offers HTML signature.
- You will get protection from spam while you sent your password protected files.
- Support of IMAP, SMTP, and POP3.
- Compatible with Windows, Apple, and Android devices.
Here are the benefits of encrypted email:
- Privacy: It offers privacy from else intended recipients to protect the content of your emails and their attachments. It helps you protect your file, among others, from threats of hackers taking hold of the data transfer on public Wi-Fi or other channels.
- More security and authenticity: End-to-end encryption can be combined with a digital signing certificate. In a digitally signed and encrypted email, the sender is indeed the message’s ‘true’ sender. It assures that message does not get tampered with during transit.
- Say no to mass surveillance: End-to-end encryption helps you to protect your messages against mass surveillance.
- Safeguard sensitive data: Suppose you are sending information like your social security number or email. In that case, hackers can not easily steal it.
- Economical: Instead of purchasing security equipment, you can rely on email encryption integrated directly into the server.
- Timesaving: Encrypting email also helps you save time to check for a secure connection.
- Regulation compliance: If you are working in the healthcare industry and have not taken the right steps to secure medical data, you could violate HIPAA laws. Encryption saves you from this misstep.
- It helps you to protect against malware: Malicious emails contain viruses that be masked as regular email attachments, but they might. However, suppose someone might send an attachment with the help of encrypted email.
Burner mail is a tool that enables you to generate fake email addresses to sign up for any website. It allows you to add multiple recipients to your account. You can reply to conversations using a burner email address. It helps you to create multiple email addresses to protect your emails and privacy with ease.
There are two types of email encryption protocols: S/MIME and PGP/MIME.
- S/MIME: It relies on a centralized authority to pick the encryption algorithm. Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions is a full form of S/MIME. It is built in large web-based email companies such as Apple and Outlook.
- PGP/MIME: This email encryption protocol relies on a decentralized trust model. This model is built to address security issues facing plain text messages. The full form of PGP/MIME is Pretty Good Privacy/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions.
Here are some major difference between S/MIME vs. PGP/MIME
|Centralized authority||Decentralized authority|
|It is already built intolarge web-basedemail companies likeOutlook and Gmail.||We need a third-party encryption tool to implement.|
|Keycode is made for you||Have the flexibility to create your key code.|
|It supports Gmail, Outlook, & iOS devices||It supports Yahoo, AOK, & Android devices.|
S/MIME offers cryptographic-based security services like message integrity, authentication, and digital signatures. All these elements help you enhance privacy and security for both the sender and recipient of an email.
This encryption protocol also works with other technologies like Transport Layer Security (TLS) that encrypts the path between two email servers. It is also compatible with the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). It helps you encrypt data on a hard drive in a data center, so if a hacker gets access, they will not access that information.
PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is an end-to-end encryption standard used to send messages. When the first email was created, there were limited encryption standards to secure email messages.
It was like those puzzles you did in school, where every letter of the alphabet should be converted to some other letter of the alphabet to decode the final message.
Computers make the scrambling complex and impossible for a human to crack by hand. Therefore, whenever you want to encrypt an email, its contents are scrambled. It can only be decrypted when a security key certificate unscrambles it.
To ensure that only the intended recipient decrypts the message, email encryption uses something called public-key cryptography. Every person pairs digital key codes that help you encrypt and decrypt messages.
Public key is stored on a key server to find it, along with your name and email address. Equally, you can find other people’s public keys on servers to send encrypted emails.
For that, you can use the recipient’s public key to scramble this message. Because of the encryption technology, the public key cannot be used to decrypt it. The recipient’s private keys can only decrypt the email.
❓ What is an Encrypted Email?
An Encrypted email is an email message that is protected and can only be read by the intended recipients. An encrypted email may contain authentication. The purpose of using encrypted email is to protect the email message from being read by unauthorized entities such as hackers, spammers, etc.
⚡ What is the difference between Gmail and Secure Email?
Gmail services are not so secured, whereas secure email providers offer an encrypted email service. Gmail messages are in plain text so that anyone can read them. If you use a secure email, only you can read your emails. Gmail can be prone to a data breach, but secure emails prevent data breaches.
🏅 How do you know your email was encrypted?
One of the easiest methods to know if an email is encrypted is the issuance of a key. This key helps an email to be encrypted by the sender and decrypted by the recipient.
❗ Can you send encrypted email from Gmail?
Yes, you can send messages, secure passwords, and attachments by setting Gmail’s confidential mode. It also helps you to protect sensitive information from any unauthorized access. The confidential mode helps you to set an expiration date for messages or revoke access at any time.
🚀 When should you encrypt an email?
Email encryption is essential when sending confidential information. People use electronic communication tools when communicating confidential matters, like personal data, contract papers, company business secrets, and sending confidential passwords to other parties.