Sun, 01 Oct 2023

The Future of Encrypted Email

02 Sep 2022, 23:24 GMT+10

Email is one of the most common digital communication applications used by billions of individuals and millions of businesses worldwide daily. Yet it is a method of communication that is also vulnerable to attack. Spam, phishing scams, spoofing, interception of mail, and more all pose a threat to any organization's email security, which is, of course, a concern. But it's even more worrying when dealing with highly sensitive personal or financial information.

However, there are ways to ensure that emails are protected, and the most successful and widely used method is called encryption. Current secure email technology requires users to either log into an encrypted portal or use an email platform that sends encrypted messages. But as the email security risks become more complex, the future of email encryption is also set to radically change over the coming years.

Below is a closer look at some of the expected developments in encrypted email that are set to be widely adopted.

Wider Adoption of TLS and IPSEC

Currently, most encrypted emails are sent using STARTTLS connections, meaning messages are transmitted encrypted. However, in the coming years, all servers may require a TLS connection to deliver emails, refusing messages sent without TLS. Following on from this, IPSEC may become the basis of most encryption, not just for email but also for VOIP and web browsing too.

The Growth of S/MIME

Up to now, S/MIME has only seen a relatively small adoption in a few sectors. The main hurdle is that you require the recipient's certificate before sending them secure mail (which also needs to be renewed yearly). But all of this looks set to change. A secure protocol for storing S/MIME certificates called DANE will allow your computer to match a domain name to a specific computer, allowing you to search for a S/MIME certificate online. This centralized system will see the broader adoption of S/MIME outside the few current pockets of uptake.

Message Integrity and Authenticity

There will be an increasing focus on the integrity and authenticity of messages in the coming years. What this means in practice is that email platforms will ensure that no details are changed in the messages sent or received by you. Authenticity will focus on ensuring a recognized authority or address sends emails. Both of these features can be implemented by S/MIME signatures and encryption. In fact, in certain sectors, there is already a requirement that all outgoing messages must be digitally signed with the correct certificate. Other requirements such as the SPF records, DKIM, and DMARC will also become mandatory when sending emails.

Protecting the Future of Email

The increasing use of effective encryption techniques will ensure that email remains the bedrock of business communication for years to come. But, it is very likely we will see the end of email portals, apps, and even 'send secure' buttons as confidentiality and security become a more integral part of every communication.

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