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Safeguarding Correspondence
   By Bill Hely

"How Safe is Your Success" is a series of eight articles by Bill Hely which address different aspects of a universal problem of particular importance to all of us who use the Internet — Safeguarding Correspondence.  Mr. Hely covers the area between the bare basics and more technical details so clearly, that I have placed his article about the security of email here, word for word, for all of us to experience. ...Richard

                    
Part 8 - Safeguarding Correspondence

Many people the world over have a very legitimate need to engage in important and sensitive correspondence with others. But, because of the sensitivity issue,
they worry about the security of eMail and agonize over ways to ensure their correspondence can't be intercepted. If you are one of these people, I'm sorry for this bucket of very cold water I am now tipping over your hopes and aspirations:

  
There is no way to be completely certain your eMail can't be intercepted

But wait - don't slink off dejected!
I do have an answer for you.

What if it simply didn't matter if someone else could look at your correspondence? What if, with not much more effort than a couple of mouse clicks, you could turn your very sensitive eMail contents into an unintelligible jumble of characters that no spy could ever make sense of?
And what if your addressee, and ONLY your addressee, could turn that jumble back into the original message with the same ease and celerity?
 
Security against unauthorized viewing would no longer be an issue - in fact you could post the message on your corner store bulletin board without a care in the world.

Of course I'm talking about encryption, but don't sigh and turn away! If you knew about this sort of encryption you'd already be using it, because I guarantee it really is as easy as I just described.

Everyone who understands the effectiveness and the potential of encryption will tell you that it is - in the personal and commercial arenas at least - an incredibly effective resource that is largely going to waste.

While
this article is specifically concerned with securing eMail, the subject has much greater implications, even at the personal-use level. For example, we all know we shouldn't keep sensitive information such as online banking and credit card details on our PCs, but we do anyway. Right? Don't worry - I'm not going to lecture you about the dangers of keeping such information on your computer. But I am going to tell you that unless you take certain precautions you ARE going to regret it sooner or later.

Oh, and before I get on with the specifics …
if you are wondering why on earth any honest person would need to protect their eMail with encryption, consider this:

        Any eMail you send can be read by at least the following people:

        
anyone employed by your Internet Service Provider (ISP);
        
anyone employed by the addressees ISP;
        
operators and their employees of any of the Internet routers
           (possibly dozens of them) that your eMail data passes through
           en route to your addressee.

Also, there is an excellent list of scenarios discussed, with many examples, at the following website. Please do have a look at it - I think it will open your eyes wide, as almost everyone can find some variation of one of these reasons that applies to them.
http://HackersNightmare.com?res=WhyEncrypt

While grossly underutilized, encryption is nevertheless a very mature technology with defined standards but - and here's the big drawback - it has always been difficult and complex to implement for people with little technical aptitude or training.
Fortunately, that is no longer a good reason not to implement encryption on your PC, if only so it's at least there and readily available if/when you need it.

When I decided that my computer and Internet security Bible "
 The Hackers Nightmare " would not be complete without coverage of encryption, I was acutely aware of the obstacles. The implementation difficulties concerned me greatly because this was a book aimed squarely at educating and protecting non-experts, thus solutions that were complex to implement and/or maintain and/or use were not acceptable.

However it did not make any sense at all to settle for anything less than a global standard that could be readily implemented by anyone. Proprietary implementations were out.

To cut a long story short (the long version can be found in "The Hacker's Nightmare")
I searched and tested and trialed and eventually
I discovered an excellent yet inexpensive product that enforced a very high degree of security, conformed to globally accepted standards, yet was easy to install and use.

The encryption chapter in The "The Hacker's Nightmare" was so well accepted by people who suddenly became aware of the value of encryption that I decided to shave that chapter off into a separate book for people who for some reason didn't want the full security Bible. I called it "
Code Rings & Secret Handshakes: The Email Encryption Guide". That title is a bit of a misnomer because the Guide tackles both eMail and File/folder encryption as well, but the initial focus is on eMail protection.

Don't worry - I'm not going to compel you to buy one of my books to find out what encryption software I eventually settled on, use myself and highly recommend to everyone. Just jump to the link below, provide your name and eMail address, select the product you are interested in (you should choose FileAssurity OpenPGP) and shortly thereafter you'll receive an eMail with download instructions. Here's the link:
http://HackersNightmare.com?res=ArticsoftTrial

Please Note that I do not recommend trialing the Lite version of the software. Lite is missing several features that I think you'll find very useful, and the small price difference is just not worth the sacrifice of those features. The detailed tutorials in my books deal with features NOT found in the Lite version.

I should emphasize that you do not need either of my books to use this software, but the less expert you are with "computer stuff" the more valuable you will find the detailed tutorials.

Also, owners of either "The Hacker's Nightmare" or "Code Rings & Secret Handshakes" are eligible for a $15 discount on the registered version of the encryption software package.

Well that's the last of this eight-part series "
How Safe Is Your Success". I hope you have found the articles informative and useful. I welcome contact from you on related matters, suggestions for future articles, or your thoughts on how this series might be improved. Please don't hesitate to contact me through the form at:
http://HackersNightmare.com?res=Contact     

                                                                    
 ... Bill Hely

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 Bill Hely is a technologist, consultant and author living in Brisbane, Australia.
For most of the last two decades his professional focus has been on advising and
supporting small business operators in Information Technology and Office Productivity issues - and rescuing them when they didn't heed his advice the first time around. He is the author of several books on technology for the business operator, including the Bible of Internet and computer security "The Hacker's Nightmare". For more information on this must-read tutorial and reference visit:
 http://TheHackersNightmare                                 

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Thank you and Safe Surfing.
Richard
www.RichardPresents.com
                                       


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