Bond, James Bond @ Encrypted Email 4 You

So, you want a little more privacy in your email communications with grandma, huh? Don’t want those pesky NSA analysts snarfing up that chocolate chip cookie recipe?

Well, this article is just what you need.

Recently, over at Scot’s Newsletter Forums, we were discussing email encryption options and methods. It’s a fun thread. Give it a looksee. There is some good info and some useful links to be had. For me, this is the culmination of all the recent stories regarding NSA and FBI email and Internet snooping spurred by the revelations of ex-NSA contractor, and current guest of Mr. Putin, Edward Snowden.

People should be more conscious of their privacy, I think. You’d be amazed how many people think that email is private. I asked five of my family and friends about this in the past couple days. Everyone of them thought email was at least as private as 1st class USPS mail (snail mail). None of these folks were technical types. They were just aunts, truck drivers, etc… everyday people. Sadly, I’d bet that many techies out there are just a confident of the privacy of their emails.

With all this in mind, I’m here today to enlighten you just a bit about email privacy (or lack thereof) and simple, yet very secure, methods you can use to ensure that what you send to grandma will only be read by grandma. We’re going to talk a bit about email encryption using OpenPGP. You can do this in GNU/Linux, MS Windows, or MacOS. Encryption works everywhere for the most part. You just need a couple tools to make it happen.

The Cone of Silence

My focus is on the Thunderbird email client using the Enigmail extension in GNU/Linux, Slackware to be specific. However, encrypting of emails and attachments is not difficult in any operating system. You just may have to use different means and applications to achieve it. Enigmail uses a protocol called OpenPGP. It is a very secure means of encrypting email and other documents using the Pretty Good Privacy data encryption method.

Security In-a-Box has created an excellent illustrated tutorial for setting up Enigmail in Thunderbird. I wouldn’t even attempt to top that one. Click on the hyperlink and learn very quickly and easily what you need to do to set this all up for yourself. In a matter of a few minutes, you can have your T-bird set up and capable of sending/receiving encrypted emails to your family, friends, workmates, etc.

For you MS Windows folks, there are also options. Windows Mail has a short FAQ regarding digitally signing and encrypting emails. It’s concise but informative. If you want to utilize OpenPGP in MS Windows, you can also do that thanks to the German government for creating an app called Gpg4win that allows you to set up and use OpenPGP in MS Windows just as you would in Linux.

There are quite a few good websites that explain email encryption, its methods, and the tools necessary to perform this feat. Here are a few to help you understand how this stuff works:

It might seem complicated, and the encryption part is pretty heavy stuff mathematically speaking; however, to actually utilize the tools available to encrypt your email and documents is not at all complicated. You drive your car yet you have no clue how the internal combustion engine works, right? Well, there you go. You don’t have to be Einstein to encrypt your emails. C’mon! Even grandma is doing it. Give it a try. Encryption can be FUN! And remember…

Privacy is a right.

Security is YOUR responsibility.

Trust no one. Encrypt everything.

Have some fun with it. You might even learn a thing or two. :)
Later,

~Eric

Image Credits: The Cone of Silence from the Get Smart television series. Image ownership unknown. Used without express permission. Contact author if this is a copyright violation. Image will be removed.

Don’t let KAOS read your mail.


A Google+ Follow-up

I’ve been at it now for about 4 days. I must say… it’s surprisingly entertaining.

It’s also damned addictive, so watch out. I’ve spent more time online this past four days than I have in the past four weeks combined. I guess humans are social animals after all. And it’s ever so much more fun to socialize from the privacy of your own home while munching chips and sitting at your computer desk in your underwear; not that I’m doing that, you understand. Although, I’m sure that some of you do.

Yes, Google+ is in beta, but forgiving a few bugs and glitches here and there, it’s a remarkably stable and enjoyable experience. As stated in my previous posting about G+, I’m definitely not a social networking butterfly. I’ve never had any accounts that even resembled social networking, except maybe my old AIM, Yahoo, MSN, and ICQ messenger accounts. I still have them, actually, but haven’t logged into any of them in years.

The mechanics of G+ can be a bit overwhelming when you first login, but eventually, you begin to see how things work and how best to set up your own personal preferences. There are already oodles of blog posts and mini-tutorials online about how best to set up your G+ settings with regards to your circles (friends groups) and privacy, so I won’t go on about that here. Just do a search (using Google, what else?) for Google+ tips. You’ll get a crapper full of great hints and tips.

Come be sociable with me on Google+. You can find me HERE.

Have fun!

~Eric


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