What with the Heartbleed exploit, and approaching anniversary of the Edward Snowden revelations, I have been doing a lot of thinking about encryption of my e-mails and digital files. A couple of weeks ago, at the FairSay e-Campaigning forum, I had a good chat with the folk from Open Rights Group who encouraged me to set up OwnCloud (which I’ve already done) and install open-source encryption for my e-mail.
I operate computers using both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, and use the standard mail applications for each. Its not too hard to find open source encryption for these programmes, but I thought I would oil the cogs of the Internet by linking to them here.
gpg4win is the free and open-source encryption tool for Microsfot Outlook. Installation is a relatively simple procedure and the end result is that you get an extra menu item, ‘Add Ins’, which has a big ‘encrypt this message’ button on it. GPGTools is an analogus appliocation for Apple Mail on a Mac. Installation is just as easy—a single click to run the installer—and little ‘encrypt’ and ‘sign’ icons appear alongside the signature icons in a mail compose window. Of course, in both cases, the encryption tools do not work unless you have generated a ‘key-pair’ that allows you to send and recieve encrypted e-mails. Both applications have a tool (Kleopatra for gpg4win, and GPG Keychain for GPGTools) that allow you to generate encryption keys and upload them to a public key server. There is also easy access to keyservers so you can look up other people’s public keys.
There is a virtue to having an e-mail encryption tool at one’s disposal. If more people use encryption, it will certainly protect us against the dubious surveillance activities practived by our own governments (indeed, it may even cause the NSA and GCHQ to stop spying on us altogether). It also helps to guard against hackers, phishers and identity theives who might wish to steal our information and use it against us.