You know the drill, right? Betteridge’s Law of Headlines states, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” That’s not always the case, of course, but it’s the case now.
Thanks to the spread of terrorism everywhere right leaning governments are implementing even more snooping laws and I fear it won’t be long and the iPhone’s famous security options will be a footnote to history. The differences between privacy and security notwithstanding, it’s time for encrypted email.
What’s Mine Is Mine
I find it more than interesting that some political parties publicly decry the growth of big government but don’t have a problem telling citizens to turn over whatever information they have that may or may not be related to any criminal activity they may or may not be investigating.
Fishing expedition much?
The real question is this. What can you do to protect your privacy rights, apply another layer of security to your personal information and communication, and still be a good citizen? Oh, and is it time to encrypt email on your Mac (or, iPhone, iPad or whatever else you use for email)?
Wait. What. Are there not already many applications that can encrypt email messages?
The answer is both yes and no. There are plenty of encrypted email options and applications and utilities available, so, yes. Not one of them is simple to set up and use, and definitely not easy for the average Mac, iPhone, or iPad user, so no.
There are options.
Put The Good In PGP
Now that encryption for personal use is legal in the U.S.– for the time being– encryption has become more widespread and that sets up a conflict between user and government authorities. Anyone remember PGP?
Pretty Good Privacy is an encryption program that provides cryptographic privacy and authentication for data communication. PGP is often used for signing, encrypting, and decrypting texts, e-mails, files, directories, and whole disk partitions and to increase the security of e-mail communications.
PGP has been around since the early 1990s but it’s not in common use for a variety of reasons, which range from, 1) need (who bothers with email encryption except criminals, terrorists, and the paranoid?), to, 2) most encrypted email solutions are a pain to set up and just as difficult to use properly.
MacIssues has a good step-by-step method to certify and encrypt email on your Mac, but it’s just that. Step-by-step and not easy for the average Mac or Windows PC user. Worse, whoever receives your encrypted email message must have decrypting options on their end, too. The whole encrypted email solution is cryptic.
Even Apple has a method to sign or encrypt email messages for Mail on your Mac. And, again, steps.
Mail users on iPhone and iPad have a number of options, but again convoluted. ProtonMail is a free encrypted email service that offers end-to-end encryption and is OpenPGP compatible. It’s also free. But it also means using ProtonMail instead of your regular business or personal email account.
See? No easy encryption solution for email.
Apple To The Rescue
Why hasn’t Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Linux banded together to create an encryption email standard that can be used by mere mortals across major platforms? After all, Apple provides end-to-end encryption with Messages. Facebook does the same with Messenger, and the number of applications that feature such encryption seems to be on the rise.
With governments working diligently to restrict personal privacy and security options from citizens, it’s possible that in the end the only ones safe and secure will be criminal elements. It’s time for Apple to offer a simple and straightforward encryption method for Mail.app, but even better would be a solution offered by all the major players. Except the government.