Well, there’s TLS…
For their part, service providers such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo use Transport Layer Security (TLS) for email transmission. In simple terms, this means your message is encrypted while it is “in transit” from one secure email server to another.
That said, TLS is not the same as end-to-end encryption. It only provides encryption between the user and the service provider. End-to-end encryption, on the other hand, works to protect a message between the sender and the recipient.
Consider, with end-to-end encryption, your email gets encrypted at your end and gets decrypted only after reaching the recipient’s device.
However, in TLS, the message gets encrypted at your end and decrypted at the server. The server then encrypts the message depending on whether or not the recipient server also uses TLS. Now, if you’re uncertain if your recipient’s email server is secure, you might want to consider Mailvelope for complete end-to-end encryption.
It is supported by all major service providers, including Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo and Zoho Mail. Besides, Mailvelope is an Open Source project which means its development process is fully transparent and is also subject to regular security audits.
To start using…
- Install the Mailvelope browser extension, after which, you are directed to the service’s welcome page.
- Follow the on-screen instructions. You will be led to a web page with a ‘Generate Key’ button. Press it.
- You are now prompted to enter your name, email ID and a password. After you’re done, hit the ‘Generate’ button on that page to create your encryption key.
- Next, sign in to your email account. Click on the email sent from Mailvelope and confirm your identity. This step involves entering the password you set in Step 3. There, you’ve successfully set up this service.
It should be noted that both sender and receiver should have Mailvelope installed for secure emails. Now, to send an encrypted email in Gmail, for instance…
- Click on the Mailvelope icon that you see right beside the ‘Compose’ button. This will open the Mailvelope editor.
- Enter the recipient’s email address. If they have Mailvelope installed and configured, their email address will turn green when input. If not, you will need to request them to do so for secure encrypted transmission.
- Compose your email in the Mailvelope editor and add attachments if any.
- When you’re done, hit the ‘Submit’ button to send.
- The recipient of your email will need to decrypt your transmission with their Mailvelope password to authenticate their identity.
Between TLS and Mailvelope, you are guaranteed that the emails you send and receive are encrypted and secure. Even if someone were to hack your email account, all they’ll see is gibberish text when they try to read the encrypted messages in your inbox and outbox.