Everything You Need To Know About Sending Encrypted Email

Email encryption software protects the identity and content of email messages and attachments during sends and receives or while they are in storage.

Email encryption software protects the identity and content of email messages and attachments during sends and receives or while they are in storage. By encrypting an email, the user can prevent hackers or unintended viewers from accessing the email.

Normal protocols such as SSL/TLS do not adequately protect emails, because most emails transmit in plain text across local networks and along the Internet. Therefore, they are vulnerable to attacks and can be intercepted and read before they reach their intended destination. Hackers can use malware to intercept email message and extract sensitive information from the sender.


Email encryption software

To protect the information contained in an email, organizations utilize email encryption software to encrypt each message and attachments. The encryption occurs before the email is sent. Once the email arrives at its destination, the recipient decrypts the message and attachments.

Since most users do not understand how to encrypt or decrypt a message, they utilize virtual private network (VPN) services or software to perform these processes automatically. VPNs save both individuals and entire companies time and money by encrypting emails for senders and recipients.


How does VPN email encryption work?

In simple terms, VPNs encode data so that a specified computer with the appropriate decoder can read and utilize the email. A designated encryption key initiates a computer process that encrypts or decrypts the message.

There two main types of encryption:


  1. Symmetric-Key Encryption

    All computers or users send or receive emails using the same cryptographic keys for both plaintext encryption and ciphertext decryption. The keys may be identical or the process to bridge the two keys may be identical. For symmetric-key encryption to work, all parties must have access to the same key.

  2. Public-Key Encryption

    Public-key encryption utilizes two separate keys instead of a single shared key. All users have access to one key. The recipient of the message has access to a single private key. The recipient grants public access to encrypt incoming emails, but private access to decrypt them. Only the public key can encrypt the message. Likewise, only the private key can decrypt the message.


A VPN protects emails similarly to how it protects IP addresses. The private network creates a tunnel for the emails to pass through. The computers on each end of the tunnel can simultaneously encrypt and decrypt emails in transit. The VPN utilizes Internet protocols to perform these processes. A site-to-site VPN could use either of these protocols:


  • IPSec

    Internet protocol security (IPsec) uses cryptography to provide Internet security. It can both encrypt the email and protect the sender’s identity in either tunnel mode (protects sender and receiver lines of communication) or transport mode (protects only the data).

  • Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE)

    Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) encapsulates an email package en route to the recipient inside an outer IP packet. Essentially, it’s a tunnel within a tunnel. As the email transports from the sender to the recipient through the IP network, IP routers only analyze the IP packet, not the inner packet. Once the email reaches the destination, the VPN can decrypt the inner package.


LEARN HOW: How to Send Encrypt Emails


Point-to-Point protocols

VPNs utilize IPSec in tunnel mode to ensure that email transmissions are protected end-to-end. Therefore, the VPN relies on both encryption and decryption to offer comprehensive authentication and protection for both senders and receivers.

For tunneling to be effective, a VPN utilizes Point-to-Point (PPP) protocols which are active protocols used by the Internet. There are three types of PPP protocols:


  • L2F (Layer 2 Forward) – Utilizes any authentication system supported by PPP

  • PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) – Supports 40-bit and 128-bit encryption, as well as a PPP-supported authentication system.

  • L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) – A combination of L2F and PPTP that applies to VPNs that have end-to-end or site-to-site setups.


Digital signatures and digital certification

Digital signatures and certification establish a scalable trust system between two or more parties when sending and receiving emails. They are a tool that VPNs can utilize to authenticate a sender’s identity inside or outside a private network.

Digital signatures and certificates perform two functions. First, they verify the sender by authenticating the information that only the sender and the receiver have access to. Second, they prevent repudiation in case a sender denies being the source of the email. Digital signatures are encrypted keys used by the sender to leave a digital fingerprint of the email message. Both the sender and the recipient can verify the email using encryption and decryption.

The sender’s key is public. All recipients of an email message can authenticate the sender’s message by identifying the key. Therefore, a third-party trust system is needed to vet and vouch for user identities. VPNs serve this function. By utilizing a VPN, both a sender and a recipient can encrypt and decrypt a message to discover the digital signature or certificate embedded in the sender’s information.


What to look for in VPN email encryption services


  1. Secure Protocols

    The most basic element of a reliable VPN is the ability to encrypt email and keep it secure. VPNs rely on strong open source protocols such as L2TP, IKEv2, and SSTP. AES-256 encryption; RSA-2048; ECDH-384 offer some of the highest possible VPN security.

  2. Minimal or Zero Activity Logging

    Although most VPNs will log basic information such as connection dates, session times, and possibly IP addresses, there is no need to log user activity in emails. A VPN that logs usage data may do so to sell user information to third-party companies. A reputable VPN will advertise that they don’t log emails on their website.

  3. Private DNS Servers

    DNS stands for Domain Name System. DNS translates domain names into IP addresses and manages email delivery. DNS allows users to send and receive email. Trustworthy VPNs maintain their own DNS servers to ensure the privacy of user email activity and protect information from leaking.


Protect your emails: Subscribe to Surfshark VPN Encryption Service

Surfshark VPN service offers reliable and secure email encryption solutions for personal and business email users. Services include comprehensive email encryption and decryption that protect users from hackers and agencies that try to invade emails. Surfshark is a perfect way to secure all of your devices using one VNS service.


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