If you have something confidential to share with somebody else, then sending it via regular email is not the safest thing to do because there is always a risk of your emails getting intercepted by cyber criminal or snooping or government official. Instead it is highly recommended that you always encrypt your emails using a strong encryption algorithm.
- Mailvelope is a free browser extension that allows you to encrypt and decrypt emails directly from your favorite web email provider using the OpenPGP encryption standard. It is available for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers. Mailvelope makes use of public key cryptography which means that each who is communicating using the app has a unique encryption key which is split into two parts.
- Before you can start exchanging encrypted emails using the Mailvelope app, you need to first generate your encryption keys –keep the private key to yourself and share the public key with your recipients (via email, web or chat). Once you have installed the Mailvelope app, you will notice that a Mailvelope lock icon appears on the right corner of the address bar in your browser. Right click on it and select Option to display the Key Ring page, which allows you to generate, manage and share your encryption keys.
- To generate your encryption keys, click on the Generate Keys link in the Key Ring left menu bar, fill up the form on the right and click the submit button.
- To share your public key with somebody else, in the Key Ring menu bar click on Display Keys select the key you want share, click on the Export button and then click on Display public keys. You can now copy your public key to the clipboard and share it with your recipients via emails, chat or the web. For secure two way communication, your recipients also need to follow the same procedure, share their public key with you and your must import it to your Key Ring using the Key Import option.
- The next time you log into your favorite web mail account (like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook and others) click on compose mail just the way you would normally. You will notice a new Mailvelope icon on the compose email screen. If you want to send an encrypted email then simply ignore the Mailvelope icon and continue composing the emails as you would normally. In case you want to send an encrypted email, then simply click on this Mailvelope icon and compose your email.
- Once you have composed your confidential emails, you need to encrypt it using the recipient’s public keys. Click on the Encrypt button and select the recipient you want to send the encrypted email to and press OK.
- Mailvelope will automatically encrypt the email and display the encrypted text on the screen. Click on the Transfer button to transfer the encrypted text from the Mailvelope window to your web compose message window.
- You can now specify the recipient email address, the subject of the email, add any attachment (which will not be encrypted) and then hit the send button.
- When the recipient receives the email, the Mailvelope app running it their browser will automatically identify that the email is encrypted. To decrypt the email using their private key, the recipient has to click on the locked envelope icon and type in their password. Within a few seconds your encrypted email is encrypted and displayed in plain text on the recipient‘s screen.