In the light of Hillary Clinton’s private email server controversy, the issue of how little some of us understand or care about email security is painfully apparent. It has been brought to the attention on how important it is to encourage everyone to rethink about the overall security of emails and the evident need for stricter measures of encryption.
Email encryption – what is it?
Email encryption protects the transmission of personal information via email messages. Products for email encryption software are designed with specialized security technology with the purpose of protecting the confidentiality and integrity of emails and its attachments while in transit or storage.
Do we really need email encryption?
The best way to protect your communications is to encrypt them. Emails still form a very vulnerable channel of digital communication. Weaknesses in email lie in these four areas during its transmission; your own device, the networks, the servers and the recipients’ device. While securing devices is relatively easier, it is harder to do so for networks and servers. Thus, this is when the importance of email encryption is evident.
Encrypted emails will offer a form of security against hackers from intercepting and accessing your private email communications or sensitive data. By default, emails are normally unprotected by protocols such as SSL/TLS, and are transmitted in plain text form across local networks and the Internet. Consequently, the content in email messages together with their attachments are susceptible to being intercepted by hackers while it is in transit between sender and recipient. When sensitive data is sent by means of email, it merely takes one host to be infected with malware to open the gateway for the interception of emails and the compromise of personal information.
Depending on your own needs and preference, you may not choose to employ the use of encrypted emails while discussing dinner plans, however email encryption would be crucially required say for an organisation handling the shipment of products or services relating to the defence of the country. The level of security you choose to invest in generally depends on the nature of the information being sent, so thus email encryption is a necessary security to invest in if you are dealing with highly important information.
Source: Randy Glasbergen
Ways to encrypt emails
Unencrypted vs encrypted emails
The true cost of basic free unencrypted emails lies in the trade-off of your personal information they are selling to marketing companies. Companies such as Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail are profitable because they often make money from advertisers who pay them to expose email account holders to their targeted adverts after analysing your online habits. When using their emails, through their terms of service users have inadvertently granted these tech companies access and permission to disclose the content of messages to marketing parties.
In archaic modes of email encryption products, the sender and recipient were expected to manually exchange encryption keys, although present email encryption software these days handle all the key management functions. However, encrypted emails are still vulnerable to hacks. Such was the case of ProtonMail earlier this month who were forced to pay a ransom of $6,000 in bitcoin to stop a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
Nonetheless, email encryption is still a simple, security measure against pervasive threats that can be taken to mitigate the risk of information in your messages finding its way into the public eye or cause widespread damage. Email encryption should be a simple basic feature of companies today in order to protect their business interests by securely sending and receiving sensitive information, especially when communicating with customers, business partners and others in a protected manner. And although encryption of emails for private users are not an obligation, it is still advisable to do so if we would like to protect our sensitive data. After all, why not take as much control of our privacy as we can if there are plenty of software and platforms easily available for free to us?
 The Atlantic
 Tech Target
 PC World