Securing Emails in the Modern Age

April 30, 2023

Emails are essential tools for communication, both within an organization and with external parties. Therefore, it’s essential to securing these emails as much as possible.

Email encryption shields the message and attachment from being read or intercepted by a third party, ensuring that even if the recipient is offline they can still access the information sent.


Emails can be an excellent tool for communication with friends or business associates, but sending them in plain text may not always be secure – particularly when they contain sensitive information. That is why email security protocols are so crucial; they add another layer of encryption to the message, making it difficult for anyone to intercept or read your emails.

One popular method companies use to protect their emails is the TLS protocol, which creates a secure connection between two parties. Much like DKIM, TLS utilizes asymmetric cryptography to keep the contents of an email private and unaltered during transmission.

Establishing a TLS connection involves what’s known as a “handshake”. During this handshake, both client and server communicate with one another and agree on an arrangement for encryption of data. Once encrypted, it can only be decrypted once the recipient has retrieved their key.

TLS is used to encrypt many internet applications, such as e-commerce, online banking and email. It has become an essential element in any company’s data security strategy.

However, the TLS protocol has its shortcomings. These risks can compromise your email’s privacy and even enable man-in-the-middle attacks – in which malicious individuals silently copy your emails while they are being sent out for processing.

Thankfully, there are various protocols available in the modern age to protect emails. These include TLS, STARTTLS and digital certificates.

For instance, STARTTLS can be used with the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to encrypt messages sent over this network, providing email encryption from the start and making it harder for malicious actors to slip in between emails and senders.

The STARTTLS protocol is also utilized with IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and POP3 protocols to encrypt messages retrieved from email servers. This helps protect against hackers spoofing your domain and sending malicious attachments.

Encrypting your emails from the start can also ensure they were sent using Transport Layer Security (TLS) by inspecting their headers. To do this, open the email in Gmail or Outlook and click on your name beneath the sender’s address; if the recipient sent you an encrypted email, it will be noted in its header.


Securing Emails in the Modern Age

With more than 319 billion emails sent daily, it’s essential to ensure they remain confidential and secure. Business leaders are turning to strategies that thwart attacks and protect data. For instance, HIPAA-compliant organizations can utilize an S/MIME certificate to encrypt messages and digitally sign them.

S/MIME is an asymmetric cryptography that utilizes public and private keys to encrypt and decrypt information before it’s transmitted over the internet. The public key is published, enabling encryption; while the recipient’s private key enables decryption of the message.

Encrypting emails using S/MIME is an efficient and secure way to protect sensitive information as it travels over the internet. Not only does S/MIME protect against phishing scams and other email-based attacks, but it can also shield unauthorized access to sensitive data like passwords or patient records.

The initial step in implementing S/MIME at your company is ensuring all mail servers, both web servers and email clients, support it. Doing this will give your employees peace of mind when sending and receiving encrypted email messages.

S/MIME helps protect the integrity of your email, preventing it from being altered during transit. This eliminates the risk of data alteration during transmission and makes it harder for hackers to alter email contents.

Once encryption and digital signatures are in place, your messages are secure from spoofing or phishing attacks. These digital signatures verify the identity of the sender and guarantee that your email remains unchanged even when intercepted by a third party.

S/MIME can be utilized to generate certificates with various levels of verification. Organizations have the flexibility to customize these validation levels according to their specific needs.

For example, medical institutions can utilize S/MIME to encrypt patient data stored in an Electronic Medical Record (EMR). This is essential because if the EMR is compromised, it could result in the loss of patient health records and cause harm to patients. Furthermore, S/MIME acts as a great safeguard against identity theft and other cyber-attacks.

End-to-End Encryption

End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of sending messages over the Internet that ensures no one can read them before they reach their intended recipient. It works by encrypting emails with two cryptographic keys – public and private – which only the sender and recipient can decrypt.

End-to-end encryption shields users from unauthorized access to their messages, as well as hackers and government agencies from reading them. It also assists organizations in adhering to regulatory compliance laws that require data be encrypted before being transferred.

E2EE makes email communication secure, which is especially critical for users who handle sensitive information or access personal data. It guards against phishing attacks, such as sending malicious links or attachments through email in an effort to obtain private information.

Additionally, it protects against server attacks – when hackers gain access to the servers of an email provider or service and steal private data. This can result in a number of issues for both sender and recipient alike, including loss of privacy and diminished security.

Furthermore, encryption prevents hackers from altering message contents to make them indecipherable for recipients. This can stop cybercriminals from stealing information and damaging the reputation of the sender.

Encryption also protects messages during transit, making it impossible for third parties to alter their content. This can be especially helpful for parents who are concerned about their children’s online safety.

However, it’s essential to be aware that end-to-end encryption does have its drawbacks. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies may find it challenging to conduct investigations with end-to-end encryption since they lack access to the key that decrypts messages.

Second, end-to-end encryption can be challenging to implement in a secure manner for users. For instance, it may be impossible to encrypt and decrypt messages from an insecure device, and certain encryption protocols do not function optimally when stored in the cloud.


Email has become a vital tool in business communication for many companies, serving to store both business and personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers. Therefore, protecting these documents with email encryption is essential. Unfortunately, emails also remain vulnerable to attacks like phishing and scams which may lead to theft of sensitive data and data breaches.

To protect against phishing, it is essential that employees are educated on the risks and importance of not clicking on links or attachments that appear in unexpected emails. Doing this will shield them from becoming victims of either phishing or Business Email Compromise (BEC).

In addition to educating your employees, it is also essential to implement anti-phishing software to block malicious emails from entering your system. These tools scan incoming emails for phishing attempts and block them before they reach your company’s network.

Phishing protection software utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence to scan incoming email messages for signs of phishing or social engineering attacks. Additionally, it can detect spoofed emails and protect users from becoming the target of these schemes.

This software can detect malware and zero-day threats, which are malicious code not yet detected by other security measures. It has become an essential tool in email security in today’s digital age and helps your company deter various cybercrimes such as identity theft and ransomware.

These tools can be integrated with your collaboration apps, offering AI/ML powering automated email analysis algorithms. Furthermore, they offer email security policies to better protect against phishing attacks.

In addition to protecting your organization against email-based cybercrime, phishing protection software can also be utilized for brand fraud and domain fraud prevention. This is accomplished by using DMARC (Domain Mapping Resource Alerts) analytics and reporting on suspicious emails.

In today’s digital world, email systems have become a huge security risk to businesses. With employees working remotely from various locations, it becomes even easier for hackers to access and steal data. While companies have implemented multi-factor authentication and secure email gateways, phishing attacks remain a serious threat. Distracted employees or those unfamiliar with their roles could easily fall prey to these scams; companies need strong policies in place to prevent this from occurring.

Ammar Fakhruddin


Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.

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