Encrypted email allows you to protect your confidential email from casual prying
when you communicate with others. Encryption works by taking your plain text message
and scrambling the output so that it is unintelligible to someone who views it without
decrypting it. To read it, the recipient must decrypt the message using a password
(or key). For the purpose of communication, people typically use something called
Public Key Encryption to implement this. However, since everyone does things differently,
you will have to check the various free services and software listed here yourself
to find out how they implement it.
Pretty Good Privacy is a popular program used to encrypt and decrypt e-mail over
the Internet. PGP can also be used to send an encrypted digital signature that lets
the receiver verify the sender's identity and know that the message was not changed
en route it will stop efforts to harvest credit card numbers and information that
can be used to commit identity theft. Email encryption is easy, free and offers
strong protection against prying eyes. PGP is the most widely used privacy-ensuring
program by individuals and is also used by many corporations. PGP has become a de
facto standard for e-mail security. PGP can also be used to encrypt files being
stored so that they are unreadable by other users or intruders.
How It Works
PGP uses a variation of the public key system. In this system, each user has a publicly
known encryption key and a private key known only to that user. You encrypt a message
you send to someone else using their public key. When they receive it, they decrypt
it using their private key. Since encrypting an entire message can be time-consuming,
PGP uses a faster encryption algorithm to encrypt the message and then uses the
public key to encrypt the shorter key that was used to encrypt the entire message.
Both the encrypted message and the short key are sent to the receiver who first
uses the receiver's private key to decrypt the short key and then uses that key
to decrypt the message.
Configure Outlook Express for PGP
1. Launch Outlook Express. Click ToolsаPGPаOptions.
2. Select the E-mail tab and check these two boxes:
• Encrypt new messages by default
• Sign new messages by default
3. Click OK. You are now ready to send an encrypted
message to your partner.
4. Create and send a new message to your partner. When you click the
Send button, a Recipient Selection window will appear. Your
partner’s e-mail should be listed under Recipients with a red question-mark
because you and your partner have not exchanged key pairs.
5. To acquire your partner’s public key, right-click the question mark and
choose Update from Server. Click OK.
6. Click the Import button. You will be prompted to enter yourpassphrase.
7. After your partner has sent you an encrypted message, click the Send/Receive
button. Open the newly-received message---it should look similar to this one:
8. Click the Decrypt button. You will be prompted for yourpassphrase---enter
it correctly and the message will decrypted.
Configure PGP in Thunderbird
1. Run the GPGP installer. It should put GNUPGP under your Program Files directory.
2. Once you've downloaded Enigmail, in Thunderbird open Tools -> Options
-> Extensions -> Install New Extension, and then choose
the Enigmail extension file.
3. When you've restarted Thunderbird with Enigmail installed, you will see an OpenPGP
menu item. Open it and go to Preferences. There you'll find a dialog to point
to your GnuPGP binary. Click Browse. On my machine, GPG was installed under
4. Now you’re ready to create your first key pair. From the OpenPGP menu item, choose
Key Management. From the Generate menu, choose New Key Pair. Then select the email
account that you want to create your first key pair for and set a passphrase. Hit
the Generate Key button, and wait some minutes.
When the key creation is done, you’ll be notified about it and asked if you want
to create a revocation certificate. A revocation certificate is useful for if the
secret key of your key pair gets lost. Just click “Yes” and Enigmail will
prompt you to choose a location where you want your revocation certificate to be
5. To find someone's PGP key, from the OpenPGP menu, choose Key Management.
From the Keyserver menu, choose Search. Search for another PGP user
by name or email address and add his key to your key manager. Once it's in there
you will be able to encrypt mail to that person.
6. Compose your message as usual. Encrypt it by clicking the little key down on
the lower right of your compose window. You can also cryptographically sign your
message to prove it's you; that's the little pencil. When the key is colored green,
it means the message will be encrypted.
Encryption makes your email only readable to the person you intend it for—hence
the need for the person’s public key to encrypt the message for other persons it
looks like :
You can easily decrypt this email by selecting Decrypt from the menu and
entering your passphrase when asked.
Now, you can feel comfortable in the thought that you can send secure email messages.
Certainly, there are still some precautions to consider, like keeping a secure copy
of your key pair as well as your passphrase. But anyway your email will be protected
PGP is such an effective encryption tool that the U.S. government actually brought
a lawsuit against Zimmerman for putting it in the public domain and hence making
it available to enemies of the U.S. After a public outcry, the U.S. lawsuit was
dropped, but it is still illegal to use PGP in many other countries.