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Email Encryption, Why It Matters – Thoughts from Vancouver’s Thierry LeVasseur, Others

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Email has become a primary method of communication for both businesses and individuals. In fact, over 280 billion emails are sent on a daily basis with experts estimating the number of email users will increase substantially over the next three years. In fact, statistics show that there are likely to be 4.3 billion email users by 2022.

Vancouver email security expert Thierry LeVasseur is well-aware of how risky it is to transmit emails from one server to another.  Thierry LeVasseur says hackers can easily monitor the traffic going through a server and use it to intercept your email. That’s why he recommends using encryption – a secure way to prevent hackers from deciphering your private communications.

Quincy Larson, a coding specialist, described the computer as a real gold mine for personal information.

“Even if your data were password-protected, someone who gained access to your computer “would have access to all your files, including emails, if they were unencrypted,” said Larson.

What is email encryption

Email encryption is a secure way to send an email that allows only the receiver and sender to read the message. There are different encryption methods that offer various levels of security with end-to-end encryption being the most secure.

Using end-to-end encryption means that the message is encrypted on the sender’s system and it can only be read by the intended recipient. This means that as the email moves from server to server no one else can read or access it. 

How it works

Each individual has a public and private cryptographic key, which are a pair. Email users are able to share their public keys with each other but not the private ones. Using the public key, the sender is able to compose an email and send it to the recipient. When the receiver gets the email they are able to decrypt it using their private key. An essential part of the security feature of encryption is that a message can only be read by someone with the other key. An email cannot be decrypted by any other key than one of the pair.

Types of encryption

There are different levels of email encryption available including end-to-end encryption, SSL/TLS and SMTP over TLS (STARTTLS).

When it comes to guaranteeing the confidentiality and security of an email, end-to-end encryption is the best level. It keeps the message encrypted from device to device. With other methods, the server is able to decrypt the email.

Many websites will use the SSL/TLS encryption, which is more secure than HTTP. However, it only encrypts the data between the server and a device.

Alternatively, encryption can be done using SMTP over TLS or STARTTLS, which is useful in sharing data between two servers so long as they both support it. However, again, the email can be decrypted by the server, which is not as secure as end-to-end.

As the number of email users increases, the need to keep email messages secure and private will become more important.  That is why it is best to use encryption not only as a precautionary measure, but for your peace of mind.

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