The emails you are sending potentially contain sensitive information that you don’t want to get into bad hands. Unfortunately, popular email services like Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail do very little to prevent someone who is not an intended recipient from reading your email content.
This is done through encryption. And, although the services above do offer some email encryption, it is often too little too late to truly protect your sensitive information.
When we are talking about information such as social security numbers, banking accounts, credit card information, passwords, weak encryption won’t do.
Instead, you need to have a secure email encrypted service.
What is Encryption?
But first, what is encryption and how do we define it?
Numerous encryption definitions are floating around and, depending on the type of encryption we are talking about, they are a bit different.
The best way to define email encryption is to say it is:
“The process of disguising email content and preventing potentially sensitive information from being read and abused by non-intended recipients.”
That’s the global definition of email encryption. However, not all encryption is the same.
In general, we have three types of encryption for email:
- S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions). Person-to-Person (P2P), implemented by the user and requires email certificates (like GlobalSign for instance).
- TLS (Transport Layer Security). Server-to-Server (S2S), implemented directly by the email provider and also uses certificates (like Comodo for example).
- PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). Implemented by the user. Instead of certificates like the other two uses a set of keys – public and private. The public key encrypts the message, private decrypts it.
So, which one should you implement in your email?
Well, it depends largely on your needs, but it’s a good idea to understand the pros and cons of each. In general, if you need server-level encryption, you should look towards TLS encryption, while for client-level encryption, your options are between either S/MIME or PGP.
We’ll briefly cover the pros and cons here:
- It can automatically encrypt and decrypt emails for the user.
- It is not susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks.
- It can be somewhat difficult to set up within an organization as it requires you to install the Certificate Authority (CA). S/MIME will therefore not work if everyone doesn’t have a CA certificate.
- It’s easier to implement than either S/MIME or PGP since it’s done by the provider and not the user.
- Verifies that you are who you say you are. Important when doing business online.
- Requires both parties (sender and recipient) to use TLS. If one of them doesn’t, the message won’t be encrypted.
- Furthermore, even with both parties using TLS, the message can go through via a compromised (either hacked or poorly configured) server.
- Free to use (if we are talking about OpenPGP, which CTemplar also uses).
- Very secure.
- Widely used.
- You need to exchange keys with people outside your organization often.
- It requires specialized software.
Benefits of Email Encryption
All that said, regardless of the type, encrypting data provides several benefits:
- It protects your private and sensitive information. There are a lot of things, whether business-related or personal, that can be used against you one way or another. Email encryption prevents that.
- It saves time. Ensuring connection and security in the past required several steps and programs. With encryption, this is no longer the case.
- It’s often cost-effective. This is particularly true for server-side encryption like TLS.
- Users don’t need to set up any additional programs to secure their emails other than encryption.
- It helps authenticate the sender as legitimate and not a spammer.
- HIPAA, CFPB, CJIS and other compliance guidelines require encryption to ensure that user information is confidential.
- Prevents hackers to gain access to your email login information (username and password) and send fake messages in your name (identity theft).
- Avoids message replays. For instance, a hacker can intercept the real message, save it, alter it and then resend it to look authentic to the recipient.
- Protects your email backups. Many email providers store your messages for a certain length of time even if you deleted them on SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) Servers. Should anyone get access to those backups they will be able to read the information in those messages.
CTemplar is one of the few encrypted email providers that allow you to delete emails instantly.
The option to send an email with a Self Destruct timer is available on all paid plans.
Here’s how to activate it:
- Compose an email message.
- Click on the clock icon next to the Send button (Auto Self Destruct).
- In the pop-up select the date and time after which the message should self-destruct.
- Click Send and watch the fireworks as the message self-destructs after the selected time.
So we talked at length about encryption, covered encryption definition, different types of encryption technology and their pros and cons.
However, one important question is still without an answer.
What is the most secure email encryption service provider?
CTemplar uses trusted and audited 4096-bit end-to-end encryption. We use OpenPGP next-gen encryption that allows our users to send secure emails and protect your personal and professional details from prying eyes (like the 14EY).
Our encryption protection covers email message content, attachments, your contacts and subjects and we’re also the only email service that is working on encrypting metadata as well.
Note however that encrypting subjects is not available with the Free plan, but only on paid plans.
Also, CTemplar’s end-to-end encryption is the very first to offer “Zero Access”, thus preventing malicious scripts to reach your email.
Of course, we are not stopping there. We know that email encryption and security, in general, is an ongoing process. That is why we are constantly working to improve our platform for our users and are always listening to your feedback.