Users today have a lot more security problems to worry about than today than they did in the past. Because cloud services are so popular these days, your average user has sensitive data spread out across the Internet on servers that they don’t control. This is also true of your email, because most people use a free email service from leading corporations. While Gmail is one of the most popular email services used today, it isn’t perfect.
Google had previously been found forfeiting information to the N.S.A. and other governmental bodies. Though their hands were tied and there wasn’t much they could do when Uncle Sam came knocking on their door, it does leave lots of people worried about the security of their emails. Just think about it. Most Gmail users have hundreds, if not thousands, of emails sitting on Google’s servers. Who knows if a hacker will be able to steal that information or if the government will find another excuse that lets them steal masses of citizen email data? This does admittedly paint an unnecessarily dire picture, because there are some steps you can take to ensure that no one can read your emails. The best way to protect yourself is by encrypting your data, so let’s take a look at several ways you can encrypt Gmail to protect yourself online.
If you’re web browser of choice is Firefox, then I have good news for you. There is a plugin that will easily help you encrypt your email. You just need to download Encrypted Communication, install it, and restart your Firefox browser window. The process of using this extension is incredibly simple, too.
All you need to do next is login to Gmail and compose a message. Then, when you right-click your mouse you will notice an option at the very bottom of the menu that says, “Encrypt Communication.” It will then prompt you for a password, so enter a strong password, click OK, and send the message. Note that the recipient of your message will not only need the extension as well but you will need to tell them the password in order for them to successfully decrypt the message.
Google Chrome: Secure Mail for Gmail
On the other hand, if Chrome is your favorite web browser there is another extension that will help you secure your email. It works in much the same manner as the previous plugin. After you install the Secure Mail for Gmail plugin and restart your browser, login to Gmail and send a message to a buddy. When you compose a message, you’ll notice a lock icon next to the compose button in the Gmail interface. After you have composed your email message, you will need to enter a password that the recipient will need to know in order to successfully decrypt the message.
One of the great things about these plugins is that the encryption process takes place on your computer, so the Gmail servers won’t have any record of the encryption key that you used. This greatly enhances security, but just remember that your recipients can only decrypt a message if they have the same browser extension installed on their end.
Though these are two of the most popular email encryption plugins for two of the most popular browsers, there are many other similar extensions for other web browsers. All you have to do is perform a quick Google search for your web browser with some keywords that describe encrypting email and you’ll find a solution for your particular browser of choice in a matter of seconds. Due to the involvement of the government in domestic communications and their wiretapping history, I would highly advise you to start encrypting your emails to enhance security and to ensure that no one can read the information that you email to your friends online.