Email has dominated digital communications since its emergence four decades ago. Cellphones, social media and similar mediums like cloud storage have also played a part in defining 21st Century communications, but email holds steadfast as the gold standard for exchanging information quickly and with a high rate of success, especially in business.
Most of what you send in an email is probably innocuous enough, or at least not particularly sensitive, but no matter how big the font is in your open book, there will always be the occasional message that requires delivery to one — and only one — recipient.
The ever-increasing ubiquity of email, Wi-Fi and artificial intelligence (AI) means there’s a lot more to be wary of now than there was a few decades ago when you could access the internet with a floppy disk.
Any data that has been shared online can be collected, mined and sold, including sensitive information that is exchanged via email. That’s why when you send an email, you want to make sure it is encrypted, so that only the sender and intended recipients can access it.
But what does it mean to encrypt email? In this article, we’ll review types of email encryption as well as the types of threats it protects against.
In a world that commodifies data, you need a secure email service, especially for your small business.
The 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report revealed small businesses account for 43% of breach victims. Additionally, the 2019 Varonis Global Data Risk Report revealed that only 5% of companies’ folders were properly protected.
These are troubling figures.
The longer you use an email address, the more valuable that email address becomes. The information you exchange accumulates over time on your email server as well as on the devices on which that information is stored. This is perfect fodder for hackers and data miners who can quickly parse through information looking for specific bits of information they can sell or otherwise use against you.
In this sense, the value of email encryption compounds exponentially over time the more you use it. The more data about your business that you’re able to secure, the less you are at risk of a security breach or — worse — business identity theft.
Your business is valuable inherently in that it has a brand identity. And if there’s one thing the digital age has made us aware of, it’s that an identity can be stolen. Should your business be the victim of a cybersecurity breach, you put yourself at risk.
The term, ’email encryption,’ refers to the obfuscation of an email so that it can only be accessed by the intended recipient.
There are generally two points at which any given email could be compromised, including when it is being transmitted as well as where it is stored. If you want email encryption, then you need to ensure your data is being protected on these fronts, which leads us to PGP and S/MIME encryption.
Two common types of email encryption include PGP and S/MIME encryption (Pretty Good Privacy and Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, respectively). While they are similar in that they are both end-to-end encryption methods, there are some key differences.
First, let’s explain how the encryption process works on a high level. Once the email is ready to send, a key, which is also like a type of digital signature, is used to encrypt the message, the message is delivered and then the key is used to decrypt the message.
The easiest way to explain the difference is where that key comes from. PGP encryption creates its own key that is used to encrypt and decrypt the message. S/MIME encryption uses a public key infrastructure. Another difference is that S/MIME is generally more widely used because it is easier to support. The quality of the public key infrastructure is generally accepted as high quality.
Whatever method your organization prefers, it’s important to remember that the key could theoretically be replicated and therefore compromised, which only further underlines why it’s important to choose an email hosting provider committed to using increasingly complex encryption keys.
Users of Microsoft 365 Business Premium Plus email from Network Solutions enjoy the benefits of an email service that includes encryption in addition to the world’s favorite, easy-to-use, business-minded email client, Microsoft Outlook.
Here is an explanation of how to send encrypted emails directly from Microsoft.
Note: in order for you to be able to use email encryption, your email provider must offer it. Microsoft 365 Business Premium Plus and Network Solutions Professional Email Plus both come with S/MIME certificates that allow you to keep your email secure.
Once you’re set up with email encryption, it’s just a matter of a few clicks in Outlook. Encryption can be turned on and off in a message by going to Options > More Options > Encryption On/Off.
Encryption settings can also be accessed in Outlook by going to File > Options > Trust Center > Email Security in the left pane > Settings under Email Encryption > Choosing S/MIME Encryption > OK.
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