When discussing email privacy, surveillance and encryption, you’ll sometimes hear the refrain, “Why should I worry? I have nothing to hide.” Let’s say you’re not a James Bond villain with a Gmail account — should you be concerned about email privacy?
As we see it, absolutely. You might not be giving away government secrets via email, but you still have a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy, and email encryption is one way to protect yourself from prying eyes. But beyond surveillance, there are a few pretty compelling reasons to encrypt email and take privacy into your own hands.
Your Information Seems Harmless
Protecting your personal information is among the most obvious of reasons to encrypt email. Think for a second about all the innocent data you’ve shared with others over the years via email: addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and anniversaries. While not the combination to any kind of nuclear testing vault, these seemingly innocuous tidbits can be collected to fill in important blanks needed to break into more significant hauls, like accessing bank accounts or for use in medical ID theft.
Not only do individuals need to be on the look out, but so do businesses. The Sony cyberattack may be the most recently publicized example of email hacking, but enough major corporations suffered security problems last year that Forbes dubbed 2014 “The Year of the Data Breach.” With encryption, a cybercriminal wouldn’t be able to read or leak data from your email with just your password. For that, they would also need the encryption key.
When Email Privacy Is Legally Required
There are professional reasons to encrypt email as well, such as compliance standards in industries where safety and security are mandated. The medical community has HIPAA to worry about, while law firms need to think about attorney-client privilege. Professionals in criminal justice, education and finance, and really anyone who handles personal information from clients, may need to meet communication compliance guidelines that standard email violates.
Why Am I Getting Ads for Acne Cream?
As much as we like to think that emails are our own private communication bubble, service providers, social networks and digital data brokers cheerfully mine your online activity in order to serve up ads that they think will make you respond. These efforts may be hit or a miss, but one thing’s for sure: no one feels comfortable when a snippet of a discussion that was assumed to be private gets blown up into a full-sized embarrassment in your sidebar.
Everyone Has Something to Hide — And That’s Okay
Even without an official industry mandate to follow, there are a number of personal reasons to encrypt email for a little extra privacy. Maybe you’re working hard on the next Great American Novel, or you’ve got a killer secret recipe for banana bread. Small businesses and startups frequently have concerns over email privacy as well, especially where intellectual property is concerned. The last thing you want is to jeopardize all your hard work by using an unprotected email channel.
Privacy vs. Convenience — Do We Really Have a Choice?
Between hackers who want our credit cards and digital data brokers who want our private conversations and search engine queries, the price of participating in the modern world is that we’ve become products ourselves. Nearly everything you do online, from sending an email to your spouse to buying a concert ticket, is broadcast to an audience of strangers.
But is this kind of exposure inevitable? In other words, is privacy just a relic of a bygone era, which we’ve now traded for convenience — and have to accept as a matter of course? With a few precautions, it doesn’t have to be. That’s where Virtru comes in.
With email encryption, no one — not hackers, not data miners, not even government agencies — can read your emails without the encryption key. Whether you’re emailing a killer screenplay, a description of the greatest invention since Post-it® Notes or just an embarrassing personal memory, you can protect your privacy with client-side email encryption. Virtru makes the normally cumbersome process of encryption easy to use with your existing email client — so there’s no reason to expose data when you don’t have to. Download Virtru today to see how easy it is to protect your privacy.