Email encryption is scrambling of email messages using complex algorithms to protect the content from being read by those other than the intended recipients.
Emails often disclose a lot information. Most emails are currently sent and received in a clear or unencrypted form.
Encryption provides an extra layer of security in case a hacker, or even a rogue employee without the right permissions, manages to gain access to an email message that wasn’t intended for him or her. This provides an extra layer of security to your emails & attachments by scrambling them using complex algorithms, and then decoding them for whomever possesses the key to unlock.
Private Keys and Public Keys
Email encryption relies on public-key cryptography- in simple words this means that users have two keys – a public key and a private key. Users can each publish a public key that others can use to encrypt messages to them, the private key is a secret key that the recipient has and only they can use it to decrypt such messages sent to them.
- Public key – Used to encrypt a message. Is and should be available to everybody.
- Private key – Used to decrypt a message. Needs to be stored securely. Access is restricted by password and available only to the intended user.
Non-profit organizations frequently have to deal with personally identifiable information (PII) that must be protected. As much as it is important to protect data of those whom you work with, it is also a best practice to use email encryption to protect sensitive information that is part of email conversations. Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is an encryption program that helps scramble email messages.
Using email encryption for non-profits seems like a nice thought but there can be a lot of stumbling blocks — especially if you are constrained by budgets or tech talent. Traditional encryption solutions can be a time-sink as far as implementation is concerned.
Mailvelope is a Chrome extension and Firefox add-on that makes PGP encryption with existing email accounts easy.
- Mailvelope is Open-Source
- It supports 4096-bit RSA encryption, which is strong by today's standards.
- It has a robust design. It encrypts your public and private keys on your local disk and password protects them.
- The keys are generated in your local machine and are never transmitted over the internet.
- Mailvelope does not store the keys.
The next article will focus on using Mailvelope’s Chrome extension and Gmail to encrypt your email messages using PGP.