You might be familiar that email is one of the earliest ways of internet communication. It is still in use and probably will be for a long time to come. A chief problem with email communication is that it does not provide the required amount of privacy.
What we mean is that, if hackers get a hold of your email messages, then they’ll be able to access the content of these emails. The reason being that most email service providers do not support encryption by default.
So, it is the need of the hour that people wake up and encrypt their email addresses to make sure that they are safe from hackers and security threats. If your email messages contain sensitive information such as any password, login credentials, banking details, and so on.
While you encrypt your email, it is important to remember to encrypt all your messages and not just a couple of them. Otherwise, the hacker will still have lots of information at their hand.
In this article, we tell you how to encrypt your emails on Gmail, Outlook, and iOS. Apart from that, we’ll also tell you the email service providers who don’t by default support encryption and so, need third-party apps to do the same. Read on to find out!
What is Email Encryption?
Email encryption refers to disguising your email content so that any unwanted third-party doesn’t read it. This is achieved by mixing up the letters and words present in an email that can be unlocked by a specific Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). Now, every individual gets allotted a private and a public key in the form of code for decryption and encryption of the email content.
How does Email Encryption Work To Secure Email?
As already mentioned, encryption is nothing but jumbling up the contents of an email that can be decoded by a designated key. It might seem like a child’s puzzle but a computer makes email address encryption much more complex than that. So much so that encrypted email addresses are impossible to crack by hand.
The procedure involves the public key that gets stored in a key server with an individual’s details like name and email address. This type of key is used to generate encrypted emails at the source. Anybody who wants to send you a private mail or something that contains sensitive information can make use of it.
And the recipient needs to use the private key to decrypt the mail and be able to read it. The private encryption key is accessible by the recipient of the encrypted email only.
On the other hand, the public key can be accessed by anybody on a key server. Email encryption makes use of a technology known as public-key cryptography. Due to this technology in effect, the public key can only encrypt a message and not decrypt it. The email decryption can be done only by the private key that is known by the recipient only.
Why is Email Encryption Important?
The problem of data breaches is becoming a serious concern in today’s high-tech era. As per the statistics, around 13 billion data records have been hacked ever since 2013. Moreover, data breaches can’t be detected immediately and it takes well over a whopping 100 days to detect the same. In addition to that, it could take more than 2 months to contain the same.
Furthermore, as per a study, 90% of the viruses that infect your system come from emails. Hence, it is recommended that everybody should encrypt their email addresses.
Not only does it ensure secure plain-text email communication but also works as a good precautionary measure to protect your data. Electronic communication is not quite private and so, most of the email address providers do not offer encrypted email service by default.
So, this makes the users susceptible to cyber theft, hackers, and other online threats. You can prevent this and enjoy a secure email service by encrypting your email now.
Types of Email Address Encryption
There are two major types of email encryption, namely, S/MIME and PGP/MIME. Let’s discuss both these types in details:
Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) is a built-in OSX and iOS encryption protocol. It makes use of a centralized authority responsible to pick the encryption algorithm. S/MIME is the most used encryption system since it comes built-in with the web-based email giants like Outlook and Apple.
Pretty Good Privacy/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (PGP/MIME) is another message encryption protocol that utilizes a decentralized trust system. It was built in order to resolve the security issues surrounding plain-text messages.
This model provides better control and adaptability when it comes to you deciding the method of email encryption. However, you can only employ it with a third-party encryption tool.
Difference Between S/MIME and PGP/MIME
- Uses centralized authority
- Comes built inside the email giants such as Gmail, Outlook, etc.
- Key is allotted to you
- Gmail, Outlook, and iOS support S/MIME
- Uses decentralized authority to encrypt the email content.
- You need a third-party encryption service to use this.
- You can choose/create your key.
- Yahoo, AOL, and Android support PGP/MIME.
How to Encrypt Emails in Gmail?
Gmail app comes with built-in S/MIME, however, encryption won’t work if both the sender and receiver have S/MIME enabled. Follow the steps given below to allow email encryption in Gmail:
Step 1: First, you need to enable S/MIME on Gmail.
Step 2: Now, write down your email message.
Step 3: Click on the lock icon located on the right of the recipient’s name.
Step 4: You change the S/MIME settings of your Gmail app or the encryption level by navigating to “View Details”
Note: While you change the encryption levels, pay attention to the following colors and what they mean:
- Green: The message will be secured with S/MIME encryption technology. Such emails can be decrypted using a private key only.
- Gray: Email receives TLS protection and this method will work only if the sender and recipient, both can enable TLS.
- Red: The mail is not encrypted.
How to Encrypt Emails in Outlook?
Getting A Digital Certificate
Before you can send and receive encrypted emails via Outlook, make sure that you fulfill a couple of criteria like owning a digital certificate. Follow the steps given below to create a digital certificate for yourself:
Step 1: Navigate to “File” and then to “Options”. Then, click on “Trust Center” and then on “Trust Center Settings”. Finally, click on “Email Security, Get a Digital ID”.
Step 2: Select a Certification Authority from whom you want to get the digital ID.
Step 3: Now, you will receive the Digital ID via email.
Add Your Digital Signature to Outlook
Now, go through the following instructions to sync the Digital ID with Outlook.
Step 1: Click on “Tools” and then on “Options”. Then, click on the “Security” tab.
Step 2: Enter a name that you like in the “Security Settings Name” field.
Step 3: For this, the S/MIME should be selected in the “Secure Message Format” box.
Step 4: Also, the “Default Security Setting” should be checked.
Step 5: Navigate to “Certificates and Algorithms”. Here, visit the “Signing Certificate” section and click on “Choose”
Step 6: Now, go to the “Select Certificate Box” and there click on “Secure Email Certificate” (in case it hasn’t already been selected.
Step 7: Click on the checkbox next to ” Send these certificates with Signed Message”.
Step 8: Click on “OK” to have your settings saved and then, return to Outlook.
Attach the Digital Signature to Your Emails
Now you own a digital signature to attach with your emails but these won’t appear by themselves. So, you need to attach the digital signature to your email via the following steps:
Step 1: Click on the “New Message” option
Step 2: Navigate to “Tools” and then click on “Customize”. Now, open the “Commands” tab.
Step 3: Click on “Standard” from the list of “Categories”,
Step 4: From the “Commands” list, select “Digitally Sign Message”
Step 5: Drag this listing to your toolbar. Now onwards, you just need to click on add signature every time you want to encrypt the email messages.
Step 6: Then, drag the “Encrypt Message Contents and Attachments” to your toolbar.
Note: Digitally signing a mail is not equivalent to encrypting it. The person to who you want to send an encrypted message needs to have sent you one email at the least with their digital signature on it. Similarly, if someone else wants to send you an encrypted mail, then, you too need to send them a mail first with your digital signature on it.
Step 7: You can have your mails signed digitally by clicking on the “New Sign” button. After you and the recipient come to know each other’s respective digital signatures, you can start sending emails with end-to-end encryption enabled.
Step 8: All you need to do is click on the “Encrypt” button before sending the mail and that will allow you to send encrypted mails!
You can easily add any calendars to your outlook email.
How to Encrypt Emails on iOS?
iOS devices come with default S/MIME support built inside.
- Go to “Advanced Settings”
- Click on “S/MIME” to switch it on.
- Now, after you are done writing a mail, click on the lock icon located right next to the recipient’s name. This will encrypt the message that you want to send.
Note: If the lock icon is blue, then it is ensured that your mail will be encrypted and you can send encrypted mails to the recipient. But, if it is not blue and instead, is red in color, then that is an indication that the recipient has not turned on their S/MIME setting and so, you cannot send an encrypted email to them.
So, they need to switch on their S/MIME setting, and then, just like in Outlook, they need to send you a mail with their digital signature attached.
Email Providers That Need Third-Party Encryption Tools
While many email communication providers support S/MIME by default, a lot many do not. For these providers and devices, you can use a different way to enable encryption, i.e. via third-party tools that allow you to implement S/MIME or PGP/MIME encryption services.
Yahoo makes use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to make your account safe to use. However, if you want to encrypt it with standard encryption protocols like S/MIME or PGP/MIME, then you need to utilize a third-party service.
Unlike Yahoo, Android mailing offers encryption via S/MIME or PGP/MIME. However, both of these need an extra setup along with the support of a third-party application.
AOL allows you to encrypt emails manually but, like the above mailing services, requires you to use a third-party tool. This is necessary specifically for PGP/MIME. So, first, download the PGP implementation file. Then, install a third-party program that will allow you to employ the PGP encryption protocol in your emails.
Email Encryption Services
Email encryption apps and services allow you to secure the text in your email by allowing you to encrypt your email address with a key. And we recommend you use encryption to protect both your personal and professional email account(s). Given below are some of the best apps that provide this service.
Each one of these has something unique to offer and lowers your stress by doing all the work in the background. Also, these come free of cost! So, here you go:
Compatible With: Android, Apple
Cost: Both free and paid plans available
ProtonMail is an email encryption service that is compatible with PGP and has end-to-end encryption. It comes at different price ranges and the price is based on how many domains are required and the number of messages you want to send every day.
Compatible With: Outlook, Gmail
Cost: Both free and paid plans available
StartMail is yet another trustworthy and reliable app that provides encrypted email services. It makes use of cutting-edge technology and supports PGP protocol.
Compatible With: Chrome, Firefox
Mailvelope is a free software application that allows end-to-end email encryption in web browsers like Chrome and Firefox. It encrypts the email address using OpenPGP encryption protocol.
4. Send 2.0
Compatible With: Outlook, Gmail
Send 2.0 provides a free and easy-to-use end-to-end email encryption service. It offers a simple registration process with its military-grade encryption service.
Compatible With: Chrome, G-Suite, Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo
Cost: Offers both free and paid plans
Virtru is an encryption service provider that is available worldwide. It is compatible with Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and so on.
That was all from our side on how to encrypt the email addresses. It is very important to encrypt your emails and check twice before opening attachments from unknown senders. A lot of email clients such as Google will have the attachments scanned for viruses but with other providers, you need to do it yourself. There is no level of protection that is enough when it comes to internet security. And so, encrypting emails is the answer to a safer internet experience.