Encrypting Your Email is the process of disguising the content of your email messages to protect them from being read by unwanted parties. Sensitive information such as social security numbers, passwords, login credentials and bank account numbers are vulnerable when sent via Email.
When encrypting emails, it’s important to encrypt all of them, not just the ones with sensitive information. If only some of your emails are encrypted, it is a red flag for a hacker and could make your inbox even less secure.
They will only have to hack into a few emails rather than sift through hundreds to find data they can use. We explain how to encrypt emails on multiple providers and summarize our tips in an infographic.
Encrypting Your Email
Email encryption is important because it protects you from a data breach. If the hacker can’t read your message because it’s encrypted, they can’t do anything with the information. Since 2013, over 13 billion data records have been lost or stolen.
The average cost of a data breach in 2018 is $3.86 million. This number has grown by 6.4% since 2017. Data breaches can be costly because they take a while to identify. In 2018, the mean time to identify a breach was 197 days and the mean time to contain it was 69 days. Email encryption is a preventative measure you can take to avoid being part of a cybersecurity statistic.
Email encryption is essentially mixing up the contents of an email so it becomes a puzzle that only you have the key to solve. The public key infrastructure (PKI) is used to encrypt and decrypt emails. Each person is assigned a public and private key in the form of digital code.
The public key is stored on a key server along with the person’s name and email address, and can be accessed by anyone. This public key is what is used to encrypt the email. If someone wanted to send you an email with sensitive information, they would use your public key to encrypt it. The private key is used to decrypt emails.
It is stored somewhere safe and private on the person’s computer and only that person has access to it. The private key can also be used to digitally “sign” a message so the recipient knows it came from you. Encrypting Your Email.
How to Encrypt Email in Gmail
Gmail already has S/MIME built into the app, but it only works if both the sender and receiver have it enabled. Below are the steps to encrypt your emails in Gmail;
- Enable hosted S/MIME. You can enable this setting by following Google’s instructions on enabling hosted S/MIME.
- Compose your message as you normally would.
- Click on the lock icon to the right of the recipient.
- Then click on “view details” to change the S/MIME settings or level of encryption.
When changing the encryption, it is important to note some colors like, green, gray and red.
How to Encrypt Email in Outlook
Outlook is also compatible with the S/MIME protocol, but it also requires additional setup. below is the step to use;
- Enable S/MIME encryption. This process will involve getting a certificate or digital ID from your organization’s administrator and installing S/MIME control. Follow Office’s steps for setting up to use S/MIME encryption.
- Encrypt all messages or digitally sign all messages by going to the gear menu and clicking S/MIME settings. Choose to either encrypt contents and attachments of all messages or add a digital signature to all messages sent.
- Encrypt or remove individual messages by selecting more options (three dots) at the top of a message and choosing message options. Select or deselect “Encrypt this message (S/MIME).” If the person you are sending a message to doesn’t have S/MIME enabled, you’ll want to deselect the box or else they won’t be able to read your message.
The above steps are used in Encrypting Your Email in Outlook.