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How To Encrypt Email: A Beginners Guide

While email is the oldest and most common form of communication on the Internet, it is also the most susceptible to a cyber attack. Hackers often use email to infiltrate businesses to steal or spy on the enterprise?s sensitive data.

To protect yourself and your business, you?ll want to set up email encryption. This beginner?s guide to email encryption will explain why it is necessary, the most common types of email encryption, and how to encrypt your email on Outlook and web-based email clients. Let?s get started.

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Why It Is Necessary to Encrypt Email

As hackers and cyber attacks become more sophisticated, it is imperative to protect your SME or large enterprise?s email using encryption. Email encryption encapsulates sensitive and critical information so that unauthorized users cannot access its contents.

The?Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report?found that almost a fourth of data breaches involve email phishing attacks. By encrypting your email, you can fortify your sensitive emails from phishing and other malware or spyware attacks.

Related Link:?Vulnerability Assessment Services? ? ?

There are two common types of email encryption: S/MIME & PGP/MIME

Common Email Encryption Types

There are two types of email encryption employed by most businesses because of their privacy standards. For both encryption methods, the sender and receiver must both use the same encryption method. That is why it is imperative for enterprises to standardize their email encryption method companywide.

These two methods of email encryption are:


S/MIME is the standard encryption built into most OSX and iOS devices. If you are using Apple products, such as Macbook or iPhone, it can run S/MIME encryption. S/MIME uses a centralized authority to determine the encryption algorithm and key size. S/MIME is widely used by Apple and Outlook users, and it is easy to maintain.


PGP/MIME is a decentralized, distributed trust model that requires the recipient to have public and private encryption keys while the sender must have the public key. This method allows you to customize how well the email messages will be encrypted.

PGP/MIME is easy to use and is free to get a certificate, making it a cheaper and more flexible option. Although PGP/MIME is not as widely supported.

While there are other email encryption methods out there, they tend to be proprietary and don?t offer the same privacy or safety standards. Because of this, you should look for email encryption that uses S/MIME or PGP/MIME.

Are you overwhelmed with setting up email encryption for your entire company??Contact?Cyber Security Resource?to learn more about their cyber security risk assessment and how they can help.

Related Link:?Network Security vs. Cybersecurity vs. Information Security?

How to Encrypt Email in Outlook

Because Outlook is the most common email client used in business, here are the steps for encrypting email using Outlook:

1. Create a Digital Certificate

To encrypt email in Outlook, there are a few pre-requisites. You will need a digital certificate. If you don?t have a digital certificate or your organization hasn?t issued you a certificate, you should talk to your IT department or create one.

To create a digital certificate in Outlook:

  1. Go to File. Click Options >Trust Center > Trust Center Settings > Email Security, Get a Digital ID from the menu options.
  2. Select a certifications authority that will issue you a digital ID.
  3. The certificate authority will then send you an email with your digital ID.
  4. In Outlook, select Tools > Options, then select the Security tab.
  5. In the Security Settings Name field, enter your name.
  6. In the Secure Message Format section, select the S/MIME box.
  7. Ensure the Default Security Setting is checked.
  8. In Certificates and Algorithms, click Choose in the Signing Certificate section.
  9. In the Select Certificate section, select your Secure Email Certificate.
  10. Select the Send these Certificates with Signed Messages box.
  11. Then click OK to save your new digital certificate settings.

2. Attach Your Digital Signature

To attach your digital signature to your email in Outlook, you will need to:

  1. Select New Message.
  2. Go to Tools > Customize. Then select the Commands tab.
  3. From the Categories list, choose Standard.
  4. From the Commands list, select Digital Sign Message.
  5. Drag the listing onto your toolbar to make it easier to add your digital signature to future emails.
  6. Drag Encrypt Message Contents and Attachments to the toolbar for future use.

3. Send an Unencrypted Message Between Users With Digital Signatures

For Outlook to send encrypted messages, the recipient must have sent at least one email with their digital signature to be trusted by Outlook. This means any users you intend to send encrypted emails must send you (or you send them) an unencrypted email with their digital signature.

To send your digital signature:

  1. After creating a New Message, select Digital Sign from your toolbar.
  2. Write a quick email to the recipient explaining how you would like to encrypt messages between each other, and then click Send.

This authentication method can be tedious, but once Outlook recognizes and trusts all your contacts in this manner, sending encrypted emails becomes easy.

4. Send Encrypted Emails

Once you have created trust between other users, you can now send an encrypted email by selecting the Encrypt button on your toolbar before you hit send.

To encrypt email from a webmail client like Gmail, you will need a third-party app.

How to Encrypt Email Using Webmail (Gmail)

For web-based email clients, you?ll need to use a third-party app to use PGP/MIME encryption. There are several third-party apps you can install to encrypt your web-based email, such as:

Select a third-party app and follow the install prompts to set up email encryption.

It?s Critical to Set Up Email Encryption for Sensitive or Personal Information

By setting up email encryption, you?ll protect your email content from hackers, spying governments, and unauthorized users. Email encryption is an excellent way to protect your communication and sensitive information over the Internet and company networks.

Cyber Security Resource?is a full-service cyber security agency providing?risk management,?information security,?vulnerability management, and?incident response?for SMEs and large enterprises. They are a trusted resource for learning how to protect yourself and your business from cyber security threats and breaches.

Do you want security expert advice on how to protect your email from hackers??Contact Cyber Security Resource?to learn more about their cyber security services.

Related Link:?What are Indicators of Compromise? A Complete Guide


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