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.)

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
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.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?