Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Encryption to the rescue

Privacy has been the prime requirement for the modern day man. We ofter hear - Privacy is dead. Is it? To some extent though it is, but the reason is not those that made it die, but those that left their privacy wide open to all. Privacy is there, as long as you let it be.

Today's cyber world is filled with prying eyes, with people trying to know about you. The information they will try to gather ranges from your email id, passwords, your emails etc. This post will try and concentrate on the email privacy stuff.

Email privacy has been a concern, ever since email became reality. Emails started back in the eighties. The thing that concerns us is that whenever we send mail, it passes through a number of routers, that come in between the smtp server and the pop server. Many routers will make a local copy of these data, and store them for further retrieval. In many places, in cyber cafes, keyloggers would be common, that not only log your passwords, but whatever you type in the keyboard. In short, it will monitor your site visits, your passwords, your emails and what not. Most of this is done due to Government implementations, others for private misuse purposes. But we can actually prevent all this, if we take certain measures.

Email encryption has been around for a long time now, but still there are many that would prefer to send unencrypted messages, unknowing that they can be sniffed in between, used for various other purposes like privacy theft, identity theft etc. But with 4096 bits encryption around, if the misuser does not possess a set of a few supercomputers, there is no way to break the encryption.

One can use the various applications for the encryption and then use a mailer to send the mails through smtp servers. In present date, most mail servers are free and most of them won't allow pop access to mails, unless you upgrade to premium accounts, for which you'd have to pay. Gmail is the only provider, that I know, provides POP as well as IMAP access for free. As for the encryption application, one can use GNU's Privacy Guard the GNUpg and for the mailer application, one can use the MS Outlook, if one uses windows, or the Mozilla Thunderbird or Sea Monkey. I'd suggest Thunderbird, for it's free and it has less bugs as compared to the "MICROSOFT" Outlook. If using Thunderbird, one can use the Enigma Add-On, available on mozilla's site (www.mozilla.org).

All the encryption algorithms will have two keys. One will be the Private key, and the other will be the Public key. While they are generated, the application may ask you to move your mouse or type random things on the keyboard or surf the internet or do disk intensive tasks. This is, so that it can generate random key, that is hard to guess. The public key is used to encrypt the message and the private key is used to decrypt it. After the generation, you will need to distribute the public key, or store it in some website or something. Keep the Private key secure with you.

If you have any problem regarding the setting up of the mailer or regarding the encryption algorithms, mail me and I'd be more than happy to help.

If you have some sensitive mail, that may harm mine or your privacy, consider encrypting your message using my public key available here.