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How to Protect Your Sensitive Information with Email Encryption

A recent study found that only 35% of businesses have extensive encryption deployed on their emails. 

So why, in a world where cyberattacks are a daily threat, are these numbers so low? One possibility is that businesses don't truly understand what encrypted emails are and how to set them up. 

Let’s start with the basics.

What is an encrypted email? An encrypted email is an email message that has been scrambled using cryptography, which is the act of constructing and analyzing protocols that prevent third parties or the public from reading private messages. Encryption uses a mathematical procedure to turn the original message into gibberish that is unreadable to anyone without the decryption key. The formula is very complex and difficult to crack, even with today's computers. This makes it vital to the privacy and security of information being shared back and forth.

There are two main types of encryption used for email, Symmetric and Asymmetric encryption:

  • Symmetric encryption uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt the message. This is the simplest and most efficient type of encryption, but it requires that the sender and recipient share the key in advance.
  • Asymmetric encryption uses two keys, a public key and a private key. The public key is used to encrypt the message, and the private key is used to decrypt it. The public key can be shared with anyone, but the private key must be kept secret. 

How do you encrypt your emails?

If encrypting emails is something you would like to begin implementing into your everyday business practices, here are some of the most common methods:

  • Use a third-party encryption service: There are many third-parties available that you can use to encrypt your emails. These services typically provide you with a public key and a private key for you to use. 
  • Use the encryption features of your email provider: Most email providers offer some form of encryption available for you to benefit from.
    • To encrypt and email in Microsoft Outlook:
      • Open Outlook and compose a new email message.
      • Click the Options button in the ribbon.
      • In the Options dialog box, click the Security tab.
      • Under Encrypt message contents and attachments, select the Encrypt contents and attachments using S/MIME check box.
      • If you want to prevent the recipient from forwarding or copying the encrypted message, select the Do not allow recipients to forward or copy this message check box.
      • Click OK.
  • Use a self-signed certificate: If you want to encrypt your emails without using a third-party service, you can create your own self-signed certificate, a certificate that you create yourself and that is not signed by a trusted certificate authority. To create a self-signed certificate, you can use a tool like OpenSSL.


Why is email encryption so important?

There are many benefits to encrypting emails and maintaining security within email messaging.

  • Privacy: Encryption’s number one priority is protecting your privacy by preventing unauthorized people from reading your emails. This is especially important if you are sending sensitive information, such as financial data or medical records.
  • Security: Protect your emails from being intercepted and read by hackers. This is important for businesses and individuals who need to protect their confidential information so they can maintain a successful business.
  • Compliance: Many industries are required to comply with regulations that require the encryption of sensitive information. For example, the healthcare industry is required to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which requires the encryption of patient records. This is set in place to protect you, your services, and your customers.
  • Authentication: Encryption helps to authenticate the sender and recipient of an email. This helps prevent fraud and ensure that you are communicating with the person you think you are so now confidential information is given to the wrong person.
  • Non-repudiation: Encryption can help to ensure that the sender of an email cannot deny sending the email. This is important for businesses and individuals who need to be able to prove that they sent a particular email for future reference. 


Additional Tips:

  • Make sure that the recipient has the necessary software to decrypt the message.
  • Be aware that encryption can slow down the sending and receiving of emails.
  • Not all email providers support encryption.

The use of encryption emails is not only beneficial to the privacy and security of your information, it helps keep your business successful by decreasing the chances of hackers and vital data being stolen or shared.

For more information on how you can implement this into your IT services, contact us today



Topics: Security, Cybersecurity, Managed Service Provider, Cyber Security, cyber attack, software, encryption, email, email encryption, secure email, how to

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