Feeds

Still sending naked email? Get your protection here

Buckle your seatbelt, encrypt your bits

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Security How-to In this age of brazen, warrantless wiretaps and never-ending data breaches, you'd think email encryption would be considered de rigueur. Alas, even among the digerati it's rarely given the time of day because encryption is seen as an exotic undertaking that brings more hassle than benefit.

To be sure, incorporating a robust encryption regimen into a routine that involves sending and receiving hundreds of emails each day won't happen by accident. If you've never done it before, there's a modestly steep learning curve that's necessary not only for you, but for all the people you correspond with. No wonder few people bother.

Jon Callas, CTO of encryption software provider PGP, likens encrypting email to wearing a seatbelt, which a few decades ago was so unpopular that many people only did when they were required by law to do so.

"You only need to wear a seatbelt on the day you get in a crash and you only need to encrypt the one email that's going to get lost," he says. "The way that you make sure you encrypt that one mail that needs to be encrypted is the same way you make sure you wear your seatbelt on the one day you get in a crash and that is you do it all the time."

Your writer was forced to confront his own encryption apathy about a year ago, when asked for a public key by a source promising a juicy scoop. Two days later, the key was proffered, but the experience made it clear that the road to encryption Nirvana - at least for us Windows users - is paved with solutions that are confusing, incomplete, or impractical.

For those so inclined, PGP sells products such as PGP Desktop Email that Callas says "literally passes the my-75-year-old-mother-can-use" test. Your writer, on the other hand, opted for Gpg4Win, a free Windows implementation of the open source Gnu Privacy Guard (GnuPG). Used with the Enigmail add-on for Mozilla's Thunderbird email client, it offers everything needed to generate, store, and manage digital keys for email encryption.

What follows is a step-by-step tutorial for Windows users. (Linux geeks looking for help should seek out Brenno de Winter's excellent how-to here.)

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.