So, I have been looking a bit into this the last few days, and I think it is pretty interesting to tinker with!
I started with me wanting to protect my privacy some more, and with that got my self a VPN connection. And after that I started reading on PGP, and encryption in general.
Now, I’ve got myself a profile on Keybase.io, with a corresponding public and private PGP key for that. On keybase I have also verified myself on the social networks I’m on, as well as my ownership of this website here. You can take a look at my profile, and perhaps make your own (?) here: https://keybase.io/lrshdl
I’m now using the key pair I’ve got on that site for encrypting and decrypting e.g online mail at gmail.com, encrypting files when I need to, and plain text.
I also wanted to mention the addons and software I use for this here, and perhaps that can help others, and maybe I can get some feedback on good alternatives for these, etc.
What I use for encryption / decryption at the moment
I found that there was multiple alternatives for addons Chrome / Firefox for gmail encryption and decryption. These are all open source and they store the private key and pass phrase locally in the browser/computer and encrypts the text before it comes in contact with the gmail system.
## A small note for those who who are new to encryption (newer than me, that is, because I’m pretty new, too):
There are two types of keys you get when you get a key pair; the public key and the private key.
The public key is what you can give away to others so they can encrypt text or data they want to send to you, and then you are the only on who can decrypt it with your private key. The public key locks the text/data down, and the private key unlock it.
So if you want to send some encrypted text to a friend, you need to have his/hers public key to encrypt it, and they can then decrypt it with theirs private key.
I hope that makes some sense.
This was the first Chrome extension I tried. In this extension you can add your private key for decrypting emails others send to you, and you can add other peoples public keys for encrypting emails you’re sending to them.
It usually found the corresponding public key according to the “to:” address I wrote in the mail composer in gmail, but there were some small hickups. Like the overlay button for encrypting the mail did go away after 4-5 seconds and I had to choose “reload elements” in the extension button in the top right corner to get it back, but other than that it worked pretty good.
It is simple and effective to add key pair, or generate a new pair of keys (private and public), and add other’s public keys to the list of keys in the extension settings.
Link to project: https://www.mailvelope.com/en
CryptUp for Gmail
Browser extension for Chrome and Firefox.
This is the one I’m currently using. It has a good inline design and function to-, and work seamlessly with the gmail browser app. It decrypts inline pretty well, adds a “secure compose” button for sending encrypted mail. It also search the key servers for public keys when you add recipients to the mail, if you haven’t manually added the public keys in the extension directly yourself.
I have tested it somewhat and I’m happy with how it works and the workflow in the gmail app. This is also a open source project (the only type of project I trust).
You have the option to generate a new pair of keys (private and public) and upload the public key to the key server. I just imported my keybase.io key pair and use that for primary keys.
Link to project: https://cryptup.org/
In addition to the Chrome addons mentioned above, I use the GPG Keychain software on my MacBook Air to manage keys and encryption locally on my computer.
With this I can import key pairs, public keys, and export my public key with ease, and if I copy a PGP Public Key text, it automatically detects it and ask if it should import it to the keychain.
It adds options under the “services” menu throughout MacOS to encrypt, sign, and decrypt both text and files with the key of choice. A lovely tool to have, in my opinion.
I do have the Windows equivalent on my main computer that is called Gpg4win, though the Mac version is easier to use because of how the system works.
I think it’s pretty great to have the possibility to encrypt and decrypt stuff at my leisure once things are set up.
I didn’t use too much time to get my Keybase.io account going. Then I could use my key pair based there as a verification, and for primary encryption / decryption since other people easily can get my public key on my profile there.
Once I had my addon for gmail up and running, writing encrypted email were a breeze, as well.
The only challenge now is to get more people using it for when it is needed. When encrypted mail works like unencrypted mail, it is no reason to not use it, right? 😀
I hope that people with more knowledge corrects me if needed, and everyone is of course welcome to leave a comment with other recommendations, experiences with services, etc.