E-mail encryption with PGP

After the Snowden revelations and the NSA scandal, many people have become aware of the extent to which private communications are read on the internet. In order to explain the consequences, one can compare an email with a postcard from the "real world". It becomes readable by anyone who has access to it in any form - and this, in principle, already during the entire route from dispatch to delivery!

To protect your privacy, you should encrypt your e-mail communication.
So instead of sending an unencrypted digital postcard, you should send a digitally sealed envelope, i.e. an encrypted e-mail.

This works with encryption software such as PGP, which you and the recipient of your message should have in use.

What is PGP?

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is based on the principle that you own two parts of a key pair, which are generated for you during installation.

These two parts of the key pair consist of the public key and the private key:

Public Key

The public key is a public key that you should share with everyone because it is used by the sender of a message to you to encrypt messages to you. However, messages cannot be decrypted afterwards with the public key.
In order to make your public key accessible to as many people as possible, we recommend that you either upload it to a public key server or, better still, publish it via the mail.ch DNS!

Private Key

The private key is only known to you, i.e. your secret key.
You can use it to decrypt the encrypted e-mails sent to you.
Always keep this private key inaccessible and preferably protected by a secure password so that no one else can decrypt the e-mails sent to you. In addition, if you lose the private key, you will no longer be able to decrypt the encrypted e-mails in any other way.
They would be permanently unreadable!


Setting up PGP

PGP encryption can be set up in a few steps using a plug-in in the most common e-mail programs, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail.
If you do not yet use an e-mail programme, you can find out how to configure your mail.ch mailbox using an IMAP connection in your preferred e-mail programme in our help section "Messages/External e-mail clients".

After successful IMAP configuration, install a PGP plugin such as Enigmail for Thunderbird, GPG4Win for Outlook or GPGTools for Mac.

After installing the respective plugin, it supports you in setting up and generating the key pair (private key, public key) for your e-mail address.

Using the plug-in, you can also upload your public key to the public key servers or send it by e-mail to friends and acquaintances.

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