The Importance of End-to-End Email Encryption

June. 05, 2020

10:00-11:00AM PST

Given the current state of the world, sensitive and valuable data is being stored on countless devices and networks at staggering rates. This creates an even greater need for advanced cybersecurity measurements. One of the most surefire methods of data security is end-to-end email encryption. As schemes like phishing and spoofing become increasingly prevalent, email encryption provides a defense against potentially malicious links or identity impersonations. End-to-end email encryption effectively secures data sent via email so that it is only accessible and legible to the sender and the recipient. In other words, the two parties at either end can read the contents. Any attempts at interception will wind up with a scramble of illegible gibberish.

Encryption, in general, is a core line of defense for Internet usage, data storage, and web-based communication. Data security and Internet privacy cannot be achieved without the use of encryption. Once highly sensitive data like credit card numbers, emails, or voice calls are unleashed onto the complicated and confusing web that is the Internet, there is nothing standing between that data and random, unknown devices, networks, routers, and servers that may be vulnerable to a cybersecurity attack. If emails are intercepted, they can be read very easily. Encryption serves as the solution to this problem.

Through the process of encryption, a user’s data is transformed into a mixed up, universally illegible product that is only decipherable once it arrives in the possession of its intended recipient. The latter element of this process is commonly referred to as decryption. Via the combined efforts of an encryption key and an encryption algorithm, the unencrypted data -- or plain text -- is converted into encrypted data -- or cyphertext. The proper encryption key, along with the algorithm, is the only way for the recipient to eventually decipher the encrypted data. So, only those with the correct key, which is supplied by the encryption software and not required to be remembered by the user, will ever be able to read the encrypted data. This means that any parties attempting to intercept the encrypted messages, including but not limited to government actors, hackers, and even the server the data is traversing, will be unsuccessful.

Asymmetric Encryption

Through the use of asymmetric encryption, users are provided with an even more secure solution to the security of their data. Asymmetric encryption entails “two types of keys [that] are used for each party, one public key and one private key, that is each party has a public key and a private key.” The public key is accessible to both parties, along with any other parties that they care to grant access to, prior to the initiation of email correspondence. In effect, the sender utilizes the recipient’s public key to encrypt the message. Thus, the message is then only decipherable with the use of the recipient’s public key and private key (which is only stored on their device). And it is crucial to note that the recipient’s private key is exclusively theirs. Not even the sender has access to this private key, making it completely unfeasible for an outside party to intercept and read the contents of the email.

With end-to-end encryption, third party interception becomes impossible -- no matter where it may be on its path to its intended recipient. To put this in simpler terms, if two parties correspond via Gmail without the use of end-to-end encryption, there is nothing preventing Google from accessing messages stored on their server. Without access to a recipient’s private key, malicious actors making any attempts and intercepting email data will be left with undecipherable content. Thus, through end-to-end email encryption, the contents of emails are guaranteed to be received in their entirety and free of interference.

PGP Email Encryption

One form of end-to-end email encryption is PGP email encryption. This method of email encryption utilizes public key infrastructure, along with symmetric encryption, and is widely considered to be one of the most secure options in terms of email encryption. However, PGP email encryption is not the most user-friendly, as it necessitates thorough training in order to avoid security vulnerabilities. Attacks on PGP systems are unfortunately rather common, due to the fact that their standards do not mandate that evaluations are made on the recipient end to ensure that interception has not occurred.

s/MIME Email Encryption

s/MIME, or the Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, is an additional system that depends on end-to-end email encryption. s/MIME operates via the use of digital email certificates, which are supplied by a certificate authority, in order to encrypt data through an encryption algorithm. s/MIME email encryption does have its flaws. The element of digital email certificates may prove challenging for the enterprise, as multiple certificates can be difficult and time-consuming to supervise and monitor. Moreover, s/MIME email encryption is not an option for those using web-based email platforms like Gmail. However, through its support and combination of both digital signature and message encryption, s/MIME is a balanced and secure method of email encryption. 

The Trustifi Solution

Although it has the potential to be rather complicated, email encryption doesn’t have to be an intimidating or taxing task. Trustifi’s NSA-grade end-to-end email encryption for businesses expertly overcomes the hurdles encountered by those utilizing PGP and s/MIME email encryption. “Once the reader has successfully opened an encrypted email from a source that they are sure is legitimate, they can also respond back to the email through a pre-existing platform.” This efficiently and masterfully provides the sender and the recipient alike with adequate protective measures.

And end-to-end email encryption is certainly the most effective form of email security, supplying users with an increased level of communication privacy and protection.  Trustifi’s email encryption platform is both user-friendly and highly secure. With trustworthy, dependable services that have the ability to seamlessly integrate with servers like Outlook that enable users to send secure messages without requiring them to switch platforms, Trustifi expertly protects the senders and recipients of all email correspondence -- including attached files, documents, photos, etc., and masterfully provides all clients with peace of mind.

References

“Data Protection Archives.” Trustifi, trustifi.com/category/data-protection/.

Unuth, Nadeem. “What Is End-to-End Encryption?” Lifewire, Lifewire, 12 Aug. 2019,

www.lifewire.com/what-is-end-to-end-encryption-4028873.

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