The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Biographical note: Dick Eastman spent four years as a crypto technician with the U.S. Air Force.
For years, security experts have advised everyone to never send email messages containing sensitive private information. They say you should never send credit card numbers, checking account information, Social Security Numbers of living people, or other sensitive information through email messages. The reason is that normal email messages are sent in plain text, and network sniffers can be used to spy on that email traffic. In addition, anyone with system administrator privileges at the company that you use for email or at the company your recipient uses can read all normal, unencrypted email messages. Using Secure Sockets (SSL) helps when the message is being sent, but there is no guarantee that the recipient is taking the same precaution. Secure Sockets also provides no protection from snoopy system administrators.
I agree entirely with what most security experts say about NORMAL email messages but the keyword there is "normal." If you want to send sensitive information, never open up an email program and start typing away. However, I will point out that there are several ways of sending information securely through email messages. You can safely send credit card numbers, bank account information, information about Christmas presents you are about to purchase, and more, all via encrypted email.
Encryption is very popular amongst governments, military, law enforcement agencies, drug dealers, and organized crime members. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for you and me. You can be assured that no unintended person will ever see your message, not even the family member who shares the computer with you.
You can find several methods to send secure messages. Some are easy to accomplish while others are a bit more complex. One method is especially easy, and it is highly secure. In fact, it is far more secure than sending the same information in a sealed envelope via the U.S. Postal Service. I never send credit card numbers through the post office but I will send them via encrypted email. The method I use can be used on Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and even on handheld computers as long as the computer has an Internet connection and can use a web browser with an SSL connection. All of today's smartphones can do that. Best of all, this method of sending secure email messages is available free of charge.
First, a bit of background about encryption.
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