With governments around the world increasing surveillance of their citizens, it is becoming ever urgent to take steps to protect one's privacy. An email is easily read by anyone who can intercept it along its route from sender to receiver. Encrypted email offers a much safer alternative. Guest author Aleksandr explains, and offers a free resource in the process.
Why You Must Encrypt Your Communications
The year was 49 BC.
Julius Caesar sent a series of important messages to the furthest corners of his empire. He needed a way to conceal his instructions, lest they fall into enemy hands. To do this, he encoded the message.
It was a simple letter shifting cipher known only to him and the intended recipient, but Caesar was always confident that if the letter was intercepted, his instructions would not be compromised. To someone who didn't have the key to decrypt the message, the letter would appear to be nothing more than gibberish.
Caesar used this method many times, and the concepts he used are as valid today as they were more than two thousand years ago.
The Importance of Encrypted Communications
Cryptography has come a long way since Julius Caesar's time, but its importance hasn't diminished. Computing power has increased at a mind-boggling rate, and encryption ciphers have become enormously more sophisticated and secure.
Governments use encryption to communicate securely across their networks. Financial institutions use them to secure transactions. Many websites (including International Man) also use encryption when showing you their pages. You are a participant in some type of cryptographic protocol nearly every day, and you may not even realize it.
The importance of encryption is becoming more apparent everyday, and more people are becoming aware of the need for encryption.
The Ongoing Privacy Battle
Governments around the world don't always follow the rule of law anymore. So-called “free countries” like the United States and the United Kingdom, have routinely, blatantly, and openly violated their professed respect for liberties.
In some ways the practices of large advertising companies are even worse than these governments. Using a variety of methods, they can track your activity on the internet. They create a profile of you, so they know exactly what ads you are susceptible to.
This invasion of your privacy is ongoing, and you MUST be proactive by taking steps to protect yourself. Your goal should be to keep your private affairs private. Privacy is a fundamental human right. The ability to communicate securely is necessary in any truly free society.
The Internet Postcard
Email is the most ubiquitous communication method, but, unfortunately, it wasn't designed with security or privacy in mind. Email is the internet equivalent of sending a postcard in the mail. Anyone along the way can read your message. Encryption is the digital equivalent of putting your postcard in a sealed envelope.
With physical mail, someone who wanted to open and read all of it would have an incredible task on their hands! But with unencrypted email, the task becomes easier. If anyone along the path of the message has the desire, they can set up an automated program to scan all messages for certain keywords. If you encrypt your communications, it renders this surveillance method useless.
Part of the beauty of email encryption is that not only can you conceal your message from those who wish to spy on it, but you can also guarantee that messages come from who you think they come from.
By using precautions like encrypted email whenever possible, you're moving yourself and your digital communications in the right direction and minimizing your digital security risks.
I've put together a free tutorial that walks you through the steps of setting up email encryption. You can use a free email service, and all of the software is completely open-source and sufficiently secure. Depending on your technical proficiency, it may take only about 30 minutes to be up and running with the capability to send and receive encrypted email.
Tutorials for Windows and Mac operating systems are available for members of the International Man Network. Click here for more information.
Intellectual curiosity, computer savvy, and problems with authority led him to explore various networks. These included some networks popular with identity thieves, spammers, “black hat” hackers, and botnet operators, as well as those frequented by digital activists, security application programmers, “white hat” hackers and the like.
Aleksandr now writes for Cryptofort.com as the senior editor, and manages the site's newsletter, in addition to periodically taking on private consulting clients. Questions and comments can be directed to his personal email at aleksandr (at) cryptofort dot com.