"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 -
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
" 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
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
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:
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
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:
... Bill Hely
Bill Hely is a technologist, consultant and author living in
For most of the last two decades his
professional focus has been on advising and
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