So much personal information is exchanged over email. Nobody uses certified letters anymore. We use our email accounts to talk to our lawyers, our real estate agents, our CPAs, and even our doctors. There’s a lot about you in your inbox, and if that information were to be intercepted, you could be in for a world of hurt.
That’s where OpenPGP comes in. OpenPGP encryption will keep your email correspondences confidential, safely locking them away from prying eyes and making it exceptionally difficult for hackers to commandeer your information.
The History of OpenPGP
OpenPGP means Open Pretty Good Privacy. Pretty Good Privacy is an encryption system that has existed for decades and has only been improved with the passage of time. The “open” means it’s open source. That means people can improve or modify the technology and apply it to new mediums. When PGP was first launched, it was lauded as an impossibly difficult encryption system – so much so that its creator had to answer to the government. Since then, it’s only gotten better.
Why You Need OpenPGP
You need OpenPGP to provide end-to-end encryption to your email. OpenPGP works by generating a key pair for you and your recipient. These keys are exchanged, allowing you to read emails sent to each other. The email’s contents and attachments can only be viewed by the person with the key. Even if your inbox were to become compromised, the person who gained access wouldn’t be able to read the exchange without the key that exists for that purpose.
Email phishing scams are alarmingly common, since most inboxes are a treasure trove of personal information. OpenPGP acts as an effective barrier to keep your info from getting into the wrong hands.
Securing Your Current Email with OpenPGP
Since OpenPGP is open source, it’s been modified to suit a variety of inboxes and email applications, including webmail. eM Client, Ever Desk, The Bat! And Thunderbird: Enigmail exist for the Windows OS, as well as gpg4o, Gpg4win, and p≡p (PEP, pretty easy privacy) for Outlook. Mac OS users also have Thunderbird: Enigmail, as well as Apple Mail GPGTools, Mutt, and Canary Mail. Some of these tools can be used on Android and iOS as well.
OpenPGP can easily be applied to Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and other email providers through the use of a browser plugin called Mailvelope that generates OpenPGP key pairs. Start by downloading the Mailvelope browser extension in Chrome. Once it’s downloaded, click “Configure”. From there, select “Generate key”. Input your name, email address, and password for your encryption key. Uncheck the “upload public key” box and click on Generate.
Under the key management tab, click on your key. Then, select export. Select “copy to clipboard” under the public key tab. Then, send that public key to everyone in your address book you want to send secure emails to. They’ll then have the key they need, and they can use it if they also have an OpenPGP service of some kind, such as Mailvelope. They can do the same and exchange keys with you.
Issues that May Still Exist with Mailvelope
Mailvelope can be a bit of a hassle. You’ll need to go through the motions a lot to secure your regular inbox, and you’ll always need to use a third party to provide the encryption you need. When you opt for a browser extension instead of a secure email provider, every email you send involves some kind of workaround. It’s less time consuming and more secure to switch to a mail provider designed for privacy that has already incorporated OpenPGP as a core feature.
True Email Privacy with PrivateMail
PrivateMail is already configured to work with OpenPGP. The best part of PrivateMail is that it’s already designed with your privacy in mind. Unlike Gmail, it’s not using artificial intelligence technology to read your emails, like Gmail does when it generates standard replies, monitors your responses and asks you to follow up, or tries to complete your sentences when you hit the “tab” key. No one is scanning, learning, or reading anything you send or receive.
PrivateMail doesn’t collect any data or statistics on its users, either for research or for advertising purposes. PrivateMail never learns anything about you by deploying algorithms or outright spying. We have no idea who you are, and no offense, but we don’t want to. We want you to have the privacy you deserve to live your life online.
OpenPGP is an integrated feature with PrivateMail. We encourage users to add another layer of privacy and protection to their inboxes by creating and exchanging OpenPGP keys with everyone they intend to email. We don’t see or store these keys at any point – the encryption is exclusive to you and your recipient. Even the attachments you send remain locked in PrivateMail Files cloud storage – no one at PrivateMail will ever know what you’ve sent due to AES-256 file encryption. This makes it easy to securely send private documents to others.
Mailvelope is better than nothing, but PrivateMail is the whole package. Privacy should be simple, convenient, and guaranteed every time you send an email. It doesn’t matter if you have nothing to hide – you deserve security and anonymity every time you hit “send”.