Why don’t people encrypt their email?
That was the question we were asked for this week after reading Chapter 5 of Blown to Bits. The chapter is about encryption and how it works for the Internet. It also explains how most email is not encrypted, making it easy for other people to see. So why don’t people encrypt e-mail? The book gives some suggestions, one of them being that people don’t really care.
Maybe that would apply to most people, but I would personally be very interested in taking that extra step to encrypt email. It’s not because I have skeletons hiding in my closet, but some things are not meant for the public eye (or certain private eyes). Except for work-related e-mail, most of my email is extremely personal. In fact, some of the email I exchange with work-related people is also personal.
I also have a lot of email containing key information to my accounts, such as emails containing passwords (because I forget passwords and have them emailed to me).
I feel most people don’t encrypt email because they have little knowledge of how email works- along with the false sense of security given by the account’s password system. Although I’d like to encrypt my email, encryption is a two-way street, and if I want to send an encrypted email, the recipient must use the same algorithm to decrypt it.
While installing an encryption software is not terribly difficult, I believe that to some extent technological barriers (or what people perceive to be technological barriers) play a large part. If mass email account providers such as Gmail had a simple button where users could choose to “send” or “send with encryption” I think much more people would start encrypting their messages.