Over the last few decades email has quickly become a preferred method of communication between business partners and individuals. Email encryption is the process of converting emails text into a secret coded format. This prevents unwanted recipients from reading the content of an email. Currently there are several types of email encryption software available. The most popular include pretty good privacy (PGP), secure multipurpose mail extensions (S/MIME™) and transport layer security (TLS)
TLS is an email encryption software that provides data encryption security between computers from a point-to-point configuration. This type of process is comparable to a network in an encrypted tunnel. TLS connections are available for both inbound and outbound email traffic. This is called transport level encryption because the message is encoded while it is transmitted over the telecommunication device. TLS was first introduced as a standard for data encryption in 1999 by the Internet Society.
TLS is a protocol that helps prevent the spoofing of email addresses between mail servers. This is a standards-based protocol that is derived from Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which is the primary security protocol used on the Internet. TLS uses cryptography hashing algorithms for endpoint authentication and communications encryption over the Internet. TLS is the email equivalent of SSL and has similar strengths and weaknesses.
S/MIME™ is another form of email encryption software. This form uses a certification key to encrypt the message. A private key is used by the receiving system to decipher the message. This form of encryption of was first created by RSA Data Security Inc. It is based on a combination both MIME and public key cryptography standards (PKCS).
S/MIME™ technology is typically available with most standard email clients. This is a less complex version of email encryption software as compared to PGP, while providing adequate security counter measures. It also supports centralized key management on special certificate servers, which makes encryption key management easier.
PGP was created in 1991 by Phillip Zimmerman as a form of email encryption software. This type of software is used for both decryption and encryption of email messages. It also includes the ability to use digital signatures as a form of password protecting the content in an email.
Pretty good privacy is the most comprehensive method of email encryption because it supports digital signatures and a combination of hashing algorithms as a form of securely encrypting emails. These signatures are created based on special hashing algorithms that require special encryption keys. The PGP process enables a user’s authenticity and integrity to be verified by external email servers and provides the most flexibility for email encryption.