The Professional’s Guide to PGP Encryption
Encryption is the new insurance for professionals.
It’s a defence mechanism that professionals would rather “have and not need, than need and not have”.
Ever since Edward Snowden exposed the activities of the NSA in 2013, there’s been a flurry of activity by numerous companies to enable more secure data transfer and make encryption a standard part of their software.
Microsoft announced its intention to have “best-in-class industry cryptography for services such as Office 365, Skydrive and Outlook.com by the end of 2014. Yahoo is in the process of becoming an “industry leader on encryption”.
The problem with PGP encryption
But here’s the problem. With great power comes great responsibility. And all the powerful infrastructure growing around online security brings with it the expectation and responsibility on professionals in the highly regulated finance/legal sectors to use it.
In fact, we may indeed be entering the time where regulatory bodies and legislature stop imploring legal/finance professionals to encrypt their email…and start severely reprimanding those who don’t.
Why? Because it has never been easier to send files and emails securely online.
And so this article is a quick primer on PGP Encryption for professionals.
What Is PGP Encryption?
PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. PGP encryption was developed in 1991 by cryptography expert Phil Zimmermann as a way of allowing two parties to communicate with each other securely via email.
We’ve written a blog post explaining the technical details of how it works. But essentially there are two types of encryption: symmetric and asymmetric. PGP is asymmetric (public-key) encryption. And it involves using a publically known ‘key’/code to lock up the message (encrypt it).
Once locked, the message appears like a random collection of nonsensical characters. The message is then sent to the recipient who is able to unlock/decode the message so that it makes sense. And they’re only able to do this using a privately held key/decryption code.
How To Use PGP Encryption
Now having said that PGP encryption is really easy to use, we need to qualify that statement.
PGP encryption is easy to use, depending on the file transfer system you use right now.
The problem is that many people default to sending files through their email…and most email service providers don’t offer encryption as a standard feature. This means that every time you send an email, the information and data within it are as secure as the words on a postcard being delivered by the postman.
And despite there being technical hacks that you can use to make encryption work with your existing setup…the time, energy and technical know-how required render these solutions impractical.
This means your two options are to switch to a service that offers encryption as a standard feature…or just do nothing; just keep using your existing unsecured system and hope for the best that your email doesn’t get intercepted or compromised.
Secure Data Transfer Made Easy
“Hope is not a strategy” – Rudy Giuliani
Now most people reading this will default to the ‘Ostrich strategy’ of sticking their head in the sand and hoping that everything will just work itself out. They’ll keep defaulting to sending files through their email service provider, even if this free tool from Google reveals it to be insecure.
But if you’re ready to take action to make secure data transfer and PGP encryption a convenient reality, set aside 15 minutes to reach out to a service provider who offers this as a standard feature and make the switch today.
It’ll be the best insurance policy you’ve ever taken out for your professional career.
Author: Maytech is the Company that made Quatrix, which allows IT professionals to send files securely online. Get started in seconds by clicking here now.