The primary benefit of encryption is protection against data breaches. It offers another layer of protection to the organization’s data, preventing it from getting into the wrong hands. Encrypting an email prevents access to its content by anyone other than its intended recipient; unless they have a decryption key. The message is scrambled during transit and can only be read by a recipient with knowledge of the encryption algorithm and key used. Encryption for data at rest is widely adopted, with cloud providers and others offering solutions to encrypt data in the cloud. Cloud encryption solutions are typically offered as an on-premises solution that protects data moving between the organization’s on-premises data center and its cloud-based resources.
Encryption for data at rest also protects against human error; encrypted cloud resources can’t be used without a key. However, email encryption has been slower to adopt as standard practice. A primary reason offers reasons around selecting encryption technology and lack of awareness.
There are two key security risks with email encryption:
- Man in the Middle (MitM) – A malicious actor can intercept an email message and attempt to decipher its contents without the recipient’s access to their decryption key. This is referred to as an ” Email MitM” attack, which can be done by a person sitting between the user and their recipient, or a third party who has access to a user’s computer.
- Password Phishing – A malicious actor emails a user and requests that they provide their username and password for the organization’s resources; users, in turn, provide their details to the attacker. If a user does not encrypt their email, it may be captured by one of these entities.
Security experts agree that email encryption is a critical security practice and should be adopted by organizations to protect sensitive data in transit. The challenge lies with understanding the technology behind encryption and selecting which solution is best suited to an organization’s needs.
Email Encryption Implementation
The encryption process is: Sending an encrypted message, decrypting a received encrypted message, and storing decrypted messages in a database. The sender uses a cryptographic key pair to send an encrypted message. The recipient must access the same key pair to decrypt the message.
What to encrypt:
The connection from your email provider.
The email you will send to other stakeholders.
Anything you want to keep private.
Why Should You Encrypt Email?
It’s more than just keeping it all safe and secure in your email inbox. In today’s public markets, established by National and International Regulators, every organization announces its security measures through written statements, quarterly reports, and press releases.
Even if you encrypt your emails, you will not be able to prevent a breach or misuse of information from happening. It would be best if you thought about the context in which your emails are being used, who those emails will get to know what they need to know about the security threats that create data breaches.
Many organizations are moving towards the public cloud to manage their cloud-based resources. Due to this, many organizations are now looking at encryption for data in transit to protect their sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. We’re excited about cryptographic email and look forward to seeing more providers implement encryption as a standard practice.