The importance of endpoint-encrypted email for business | Apertura Designs

The importance of endpoint-encrypted email for business

The security disclosures that have occurred over the past two years – vis a vis Edward Snowden's revelations around global electronic surveillance programmes – have shone light on email's lack of security as a communication medium. Email – in its plain, default state – is prone to content interception at the multiple points between an email being sent, its journey over the public internet, and the recipient's account. As has been demonstrated in practice by these various clandestine surveillance programmes, obtaining the content of what most people would assume to be a private communication is, in fact, technologically trivial. This is true irrespective of whether a standalone email application is used, or a web-based service such as Gmail.

Quite aside from notions of folks' right to privacy in the digital age, the ease by which email content can be obtained has serious implications for certain sectors of business, law, research and development, politics, journalism, and employment matters. For example, a company with an R&D focus on potentially lucrative and game-changing technology might have very good reason to be concerned about the idea of industrial espionage – and a competing interest targeting easily-compromised emails would be one unfortunate way to facilitate this. The current, documented breadth and depth of global surveillance has turned this from a far-fetched scenario to one that is of increasing relevance, particularly for these industries.

To ensure the secrecy of email communications, increasing focus is being placed on a security method called endpoint encryption (also known as "end-to-end encryption"). This uses complex mathematical software algorithms to encrypt a source email, in such a way that the only person able to possibly decrypt it is the email recipient. It's the same technology which Facebook has recently moved to implement, specifically to ensure that sensitive data such as account passwords can only be read by the recipient (without the risk of interception at the many possible endpoints a standard email is subject to). In fact, Facebook's endorsement of endpoint encryption is a significant public acknowledgement of the insecure nature of standard email.

Endpoint encryption is supported via the Thunderbird email application in tandem with the Enigmail add-on:

For business owners handling sensitive communications who wish to ensure email content privacy, please drop us a line.

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