Sending and receiving emails is not always secure. This is why with Microsoft 365 you can encrypt your emails to ensure security and privacy.
What Is Encryption?
Encryption is where data is scrambled or encoded so that it cannot be accessed or read until decrypted. From an IT security standpoint, encryption is brilliant.
Data encryption can apply to various scenarios. However, this blog will focus on encryption in sending and receiving emails within Microsoft 365.
First, let’s have a little history lesson on Email.
The Email was invented in the 1970s by Ray Tomlinson. And when Ray was first building the email systems, he was not creating them with privacy or security in mind. However, email security has obviously come a long way in the past 50/60 years or so. This doesn’t mean it is secure enough communication considering today’s threats and cybercrime.
When you send an Email, it is a bit like sending a letter. You write it out, add the name and address, and then send it on its way. However, even though you’re the one posting it, you are relying on other people and systems to deliver it for you. All you can do is hope that the letter ends up in the correct place and with the correct person and is not intercepted or read by anyone else along its journey.
But today, businesses of all sizes rely on email to communicate within the company and to clients and other firms with confidential and sensitive information.
So how can encryption help?
Think about it this way; you can write your email and send it as usual. But as soon as that email is sent, it is scrambled up and made into code so that on the way to its recipient, it’s complete gibberish! This means that if the email is intercepted at any point in its journey from sender to receiver, nobody will be able to understand the contents of the email.
The email is only decrypted when it lands in the intended mailbox.
Getting Started with Email Encryption
If you’re using Microsoft 365, email encryption is easy and free! So I’m going to show you exactly how it works.
Here I am going to write an email to my colleague ‘Boris’ and an external email account.
This will help to show the difference between email views for employees within the business and external email addresses for people who aren’t involved with the company.
The subject and content could be anything, but I’ve kept it simple for this example.
To encrypt the email, it’s straightforward.
Click on the ‘Options’ tab, and there will be an encryption button. After clicking on this button, four options will be available to you. I’ll walk through each of them individually.
Starting with ‘Encrypt Only’, You can see that there is a padlock image that has appeared in the email preview. This lets the recipient know it is an encrypted email. This email is openable and readable; the only difference is that it is encrypted as far as the recipients are aware. This is the same for the external email account.
The Gmail (external) account usually asks for your Gmail credentials to ensure it is the correct recipient.
This second email is set to the ‘Do Not Forward’ option.
I have again sent it to the internal and external email addresses. As you can see in the image above, this option restricts the recipients from not only forwarding the email but also from printing the email off on top of being encrypted. This is the same for both email accounts.
For the third option, I am sending yet another email to both accounts.
This time the setting is ‘Confidential – All Employees’
For the Internal email, Boris will receive and be able to do whatever he wants to the email. He can forward it, reply and print it off without restriction.
For the External account, as you can see above, there is no access to the email.
This is because they are outside the business. They have an external email account, and because we set t to ‘all employees,’ they do not have permission to view the email.
This is the same for the fourth option. The only difference is the confidentiality level of the email content.
Advanced Email Encryption
These subscriptions cost a lot of money. However, you get many features with them, such as Advanced Email Encryption.
This enables you to:
- Set an Expiration date for your encryption emails
- Revoke encrypted emails
Email Encryption is something that every business should be using. The security of your IT needs to be taken seriously.
Hopefully, this blog has been helpful and attached is a YouTube video to watch all about it.