How encryption works

What it takes to make email safer from snooping.

Privacy is important to all of us

If you mail a letter to your friend, you’re hoping that she’ll be the only person who reads it. But a lot could happen to that letter on its way from you to her, and there may be prying eyes who try to read it. It's why we send important messages in sealed envelopes rather than on the back of postcards.

Sending and receiving email works in a similar way.

As you go about your day reading, writing, and checking messages, there’s a lot that happens to deliver your emails to their intended recipients. But when you send or receive messages with an email provider who doesn't transmit messages via a secure connection, your emails could be open to snooping.

Encryption depends on everyone

Encryption with Transport Layer Security keeps prying eyes away from your messages while they’re in transit. TLS is a protocol that encrypts and delivers mail securely, for both inbound and outbound mail traffic. It helps prevent eavesdropping between mail servers – keeping your messages private while they're moving between email providers.

However, your messages are encrypted only if you and the people you email with both use email providers that support Transport Layer Security. Not every email provider uses TLS, and if you send or receive messages from a provider that doesn't, your message could be read by eavesdroppers.

TLS is being adopted as the standard for secure email. While it's not a perfect solution, if everyone uses it, snooping on email will be more difficult and costly than it is today.

Spread the word about the importance of proper email encryption in transit – more messages encrypted in transit makes the Internet safer for all of us.