Email Security with Encryption Systems

Many would agree that email has surpassed the telephone as the primary means of communications by business professionals across all industries. However, most email systems are not secure, and this lack of privacy for such a widely used tool has become a worldwide recognized issue. While all companies are mandated by law to protect personally identifiable information they receive, there is industry specific information that requires such protections as well. For example, many data items generated from organizations operating within the healthcare, defense and financial services sectors fall under this category. They require a type of email encryption that protects personal and company proprietary information from unauthorized interception during transmission.

Securing Email Using Public Key Infrastructure

One of the most common forms of encryption is called public key infrastructure (PKI), and it includes the use of public and private keys by organizations and their business stakeholders. For example, both parties who correspond via email can do so securely by generating public and private keys. A sender with a public key transmits an encrypted message that is only decrypted by the designated recipient who has the private key. Since the sender also has a private key, they can digitally autograph the message sent. The recipient who also has a public key can use it to authenticate the electronic signature on the email message.

Popular Free and Pay For Use Encryption Systems

One of the first encryption systems to provide for email message safety is Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). PGP is a proprietary system that uses PKI along with many other encryption methods to provide an increased level of email security. The open source version of PGP is called OpenPGP, and it uses encryption algorithms to secure emails. The OpenPGP system has open source standards that allow it to be compatible with a wide variety of PGP compliant software. GNU Private Guard (GnuPG) is a competitor email encrypting system to Symantec owned PGP, and it is also free to use like OpenPGP.

Comparison Of Features For Free And Proprietary Encryption Systems

The datasheet of benefits associated with PGP and GnuPG encryption systems for email security is extensive and very similar because their later versions were designed according to the OpenPGP standards. This means that theoretically a PGP key can decrypt a message sent by someone using a GnuPG encryption key. Both systems can secure email messages, attachments and other data files. Also, the latest versions of each can be used on both Windows and Linux operating systems.

Krypto Campaign Challenges

While PGP and GnuPG easily encrypt messages on various email platforms, it is the widely used Microsoft Office email application that presents the most difficulty. Symantec’s PGP system is supposed to work with both Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, but many users have found that Symantec has difficulty keeping PGP updated with the changes presented with new Windows operating system versions. GnuPG users of the Microsoft Outlook software must apply a plugin like Outlook Privacy Plugin or gpg4o to unlock the features of the free GnuPG encryption service. While the Outlook Privacy Plugin is a completely free solution, some users found earlier versions cumbersome to use and a latter version did not work at all. Alternately, the gpg4o email security plugin works fine and is relatively easy to use according to members of the user community. This plugin is professionally updated and supported, and it comes with a user manual for greater operational clarity. However, users must pay a nominal yearly support fee for the gpg4o plugin after a 45 day free trial period.

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