When you send email, it’s open for all the world to see. Sure, the average computer user might not be able to read your email because you have to logon to access your computer. However, a knowledgeable computer user, your ISP, your network administrator or hacker CAN access your email and read it. What to do?
If you have confidential email, that you want to remain that way, one thing you can do is encrypt your email. Encrypting your email will help ensure that even if someone does get a hold of your email message – they can’t read it.
Only the recipients of your email, who have a special “digital key” can read email sent to them.
The Toronto Star writes Experts in electronic security agree that the best way to secure digital messages is with encryption, be it a regular e-mail or a message sent with a Blackberry.
Encryption is a process of “scrambling messages” using special keys, explains David Yach, senior vice-president of software at Research in Motion. The Waterloo company makes the Blackberry devices that countless executives use to swap messages.
The keys used for encryption aren’t like the grooved pieces of metal we use to secure our homes. Encryption keys, which are generated by software, are more like the secret rings that let children decode messages from their friends.
With common encryption methods, each user has two keys. One of the keys is private and known only by the owner. The other is public. Say a broker wants to send his client a private message and both parties already own a set of keys. The broker writes his e-mail as usual, then scrambles the message using his public key. The client unscrambles the message using his private key.
Unlike the secret decoder rings of childhood, encrypting or decrypting a message doesn’t involve a lot of patience and reference tables. With e-mail software such as Microsoft Outlook, encrypting a message only requires a couple of clicks of the mouse.
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