Email Encryption is a vital tool for businesses to ensure that their email communications are safe. Email is not a secure method of communication and it’s possible to expose the content of emails, putting confidential information and data at risk. Consequently, businesses need to encrypt sensitive emails and attachments.
Sending encrypted email is often compulsory for legal or regulatory reasons. It’s also often the case that a business has the information it wants to be kept out of public view. Email Encryption software allows businesses to secure emails, making sure they are accessed only by the intended recipient and giving end users more security controls.
In this list of the best email encryption solutions, we’ll be looking at the methods of encryption these products offer, the controls they provide to IT admins, their ease of use for senders and recipients and the quality of reporting they offer.
How Does Email Encryption Work?
With email being the predominant means of business communication, your email is a tempting target for a hostile actor. There are multiple protocols that have been used to encrypt emails, each with their own history and strengths and weaknesses. The most used types of encryption are TLS, AES, PGP, and S/MIME.
TLS stands for Transport Layer Security and has evolved from SSL (Secure Socket Layer). This type of encryption is in use whenever you see the padlock icon in search bar of web browsers where a secure connection is established. It can be used to send emails, as well as other file types. TLS will ensure your data is safe whilst in transit, it cannot, however, protect emails that are in your inbox.
Advanced Encryption Standard is a robust and effective method of sending data securely. It uses a symmetric key cipher which makes it incredibly fast, but no less secure. The encryption acts like a trap door – it is easy to go in one direction (encryption) but much harder to go backwards (decrypt) unless you have the right key.
To hack AES-256, an attacker would need to work out a number that is 78 digits long to decrypt your data. While 256 is the highest encryption level on use, it can also be used in 128- or 192-bit formats. This type of encryption is used by governmental organizations.
PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy (no, really), and uses symmetric-key cryptography to protect your email, texts, and files. It has been the de facto email encryption method since its invention in 1991. The public key is used to encrypt the data, while a separate key is used to decrypt the data. As you are not using the same key for both processes, there is less opportunity for an attacker to steal the key.
This builds on Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) by employing asymmetric encryption methods. This means that there are a pair of keys – one is public and the other is private. Not only does S/MIME protect your email whilst in transit, but it ensures the email is not modified and protects against email spoofing. S/MIME also uses digital certificates to verify sender identity. This type of encryption will need to be implemented on the user endpoint.
What Features Should You Look For In An Email Encryption Solution?
1. Cloud-Based End-To-End Encryption
2. Policy-Based Data Loss Prevention
3. Legal Compliance
4. Range Of Delivery Methods Available
5. End User Controls
6. Easy-To-Use Admin Console With Reporting
7. Branding Options
8. Accuracy and deliverability