(+) How to Safely Send a Secret E-mail Message on the Spur of the Moment
The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
I hope you are familiar with the warning, “Normal email is sent plain text and can be read by many different people when it is sent or when it is residing in the recipient’s in-box. Never send confidential information (such as credit card numbers or Social Security numbers) via normal email!” Network sniffers can spy on your email traffic. Using Secure Sockets helps, but there is no guarantee the recipient is taking the same precaution.
I would never send credit card information or stock brokerage account information or my Social Security Number or any other sensitive information in an e-mail message.
In fact, there has been a safe and secure method of sending sensitive information for years: encrypt the information before sending it. Of course, the recipient then will receive a message that is unreadable and must decrypt it in some manner before being able to read your message.
NOTE: I will point out that many years ago I spent my military service as a crypto technician. I spent at least eight hours a day encrypting and decrypting digital messages and voice traffic (telephone conversations, aircraft two-way transmissions, etc.). While that was more years ago than I care to admit, I have always maintained an interest in cryptology and have tried to keep up-to-date with the unclassified information available.
I have experimented with all sorts of encryption methods over the years. There are many to choose from, and almost all of them meet their objective of securing communications. However, most of them have been awkward to use and require technical expertise on both ends: both the sender and the recipient needed to know and understand the use of cryptology.
So what do you do if you suddenly have a need to send sensitive information to someone else? Here are several suggestions. Pick one.
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