In this day and age everyone is concerned about the security of their sensitive private data. Companies want to protect their confidential and sensitive business information. Their customers and employees want them to protect their information with at least the same level of security they use to protect their own. We want protection from identity thieves, viruses, malware, spyware, etc. We may not think about the sensitive information we provide in the emails we send. Perhaps we should.
What is encryption? Encryption is the converting of information such as text or data into a special code so that unauthorized or unintended parties cannot read it. Decryption is the ability to convert encrypted information into a legible form.
Why should we use encryption? We should encrypt all emails that contain sensitive and private information in order to keep that information strictly between you and the intended recipient. You might inadvertently send an email containing private information to an unintended recipient. Or worse case scenario, an ill-intentioned person could get a hold of your information and cause harm. Here are some examples of information you want to keep prying eyes away from:
- Social Security numbers
- Credit card numbers and information
- Passport information
- Financial data like banking, investment, mortgage, and loan information
- Medical data such as medical condition, insurance information, payment for health services, etc.
- Business financial records
- Marketing plans
- R&D information
- Tax correspondence
- Patient health records
- Customer information
- Employee information
When should we use encryption? Use encryption when sending emails containing sensitive information to prevent it from being read by anyone but the person for whom it is intended. Even if you send emails to a secure website, it is usually not encrypted where it is stored. As a result, if anyone, including a hacker, gains access to the site, they might have the ability to read any information contained within your emails. By encrypting your emails you will prevent most unauthorized people from reading your private information. We say most because nothing will stop the “best” hackers out there.
Methods of encryption
- Many existing email clients offer extra software that plugs into your existing email client. They are simple and easy to use.
- Download & install email encryption certificate from companies like Comodo. There are two parts:
- Public key: you send to people that want to send you encrypted emails
- Private key: this is the tool that you use to decrypt the emails
- Does not require sender and recipient to trade confidential information in advance
- Website of 3rd party email encryption service
- Easier to use
- Good when you aren’t sending frequent encryption emails
- Requires recipient to have decryptions tools (i.e., similar software)
You can always ask your IT team what method of encryption is best for your situation and how to set up the proper protocols.
Have you used email encryption? What has worked the best for you? Let us know in the comment section.