Looking to make sure your emails are protected from prying eyes, whether those eyes be government “data miners” or just anyone who might be spoofing your identity and looking for juicy information with which to open a credit card in your name? Or maybe you’re just one of those folks who doesn’t want strange eyes (like your boss) reading the tasty messages you and your significant other send back and forth to each other? Well then, this Lifehacker [ http://www.lifehacker.com/ ] special is for you! Okay, okay, I haven’t really sold you on it, but try this scenario, put forth in the article, on for size:
Sam wants to send Jane a secret email love letter that he doesn’t want Joe, Jane’s jealous downstairs neighbor who piggybacks her wifi, to see. Jane uses PGP, which means she has a PUBLIC key (which is basically a bunch of letters and numbers) which she’s published on her web site for anyone who wants to send her encrypted email messages to use. Jane’s also got a PRIVATE key which no one else – including Joe the Jealous Wifi Piggybacker – has.
So Sam looks up Jane’s public key. He composes his ardent profession of love, encrypts it with that public key, and sends Jane his message. In sending, copies of that message are made on Sam’s email server and Jane’s email server – but that message looks like a bunch of garbled nonsense. Joe the Jealous Wifi Piggybacker shakes his fist in frustration when he sniffs Jane’s email for any hint of a chance between them. He can’t read Sam’s missive.
However, when Jane receives the message in Thunderbird, her private key decrypts it. When it does, she can read all about Sam’s true feelings in (pretty good) privacy.
You too can get PGP set up in a few simple steps.
And they’re right, too! The special takes you through the process of obtaining and setting up PGP, which stands for Pretty Good Privacy [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PGP ] and setting it up in Mozilla Thunderbird, [ http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/ ] one of the hottest mail clients on the block. I, for one, had always wanted to configure my email to be as secure at home as we keep it at the office, but never really knew a great way to do it, and then this how-to comes along. Thanks, Lifehacker!