by September 5, 2007 0 comments

E -mails are the most preferred way of communication these days both on
personal and professional front. But, preventing your mails from being
intercepted and read is one of the major concerns these days as they might be
carrying your confidential information.

This problem can be dealt with the help of e-mail encryption tools. In one of
our recent security surveys, we found that e-mail encryption is going to be the
next big thing that a lot of enterprises are planning to implement.

E-mail encryption can be achieved at two levels: Gateway and Desktop. As the
names suggest, gateway level is implemented at the enterprise level. All e-mail
going out of the organization by all users are automatically encrypted. It it is
implemented at the gateway level of the organization. Desktop level e-mail
encryption is for individuals. In this, a user has the liberty to decide whether
to encrypt an e-mail before sending or not. In this article, we take a look at
one of the desktop level e-mail encryption solution called Secured eMail. This
needs to be installed at both the sending and receiving end points in order to
work. We’ll tell you how to deploy it in your organization.

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Secured eMail
This is an easy to use desktop e-mail encryption solution that uses 256-bit
Advanced Encryption Standard – Padded Hashed Message (AES_PHM) encryption
algorithm in Cipher Feedback (CFB) mode for encrypting mails. It’s also used for
encrypting its databases stored on a local machine. For providing a secure
communication channel this software uses ‘one time shared secret’ between two
parties. One time shared
secret is the recipient’s password and is unique for each contact.

You have to provide it to the recipient only while sending e-mail to him for
the first time, and that you can communicate to him either through an SMS or a
phone call. Once the recipient has entered it, he is no longer required to
provide it again.

Next time, when you send a mail to the same recipient, the software will
automatically encrypt it using the shared secret you provided for the first

Secured e-Mail checks whether the
recipient whom an encrypted mail is being sent to is in the contacts list.
If not then it adds new recipients and provides a shared secret

Using Secured eMail with MS Outlook
You can install this software on Windows 2000/XP/2003 and it takes just a
few minutes to be integrated into your e-mail client. It supports Microsoft
Outlook, Lotus Notes 6.0 including their higher versions and has to be
installed at both sender’s and receiver’s end After installation is complete
you will see a new tab ‘Send secured’ for sending the mails through Secured
eMail client. To send an encrypted e-mail, just click on the ‘Send secured’
button instead of the ‘Send’ button. However, at this point if you haven’t
already added the contact to whom you are sending the mail into ‘My Secured
Contacts’ list, then a ‘New Contact’ window is launched. Simply, provide the
name of the contact.

Within the same window you also have an option ‘Create a draft e-mail
containing contact information and the Shared Secret’ to keep the shared secret
either for your reference or for the contact. But, this option is not
recommended as the shared secret in draft is not encrypted and if someone gets
access to your mail, he will be able to see that easily.

When recipient receives an encrypted mail, he has to provide the correct
shared secret, and then Secured email client will decrypt the mail and open it
in a Web browser. Instead of using your regular e-mail client, you can also use’
Secured eMail Reader’ component of the software to read your
encrypted mails.

In case you are not convinced that the mail you are sending is encrypted,
here is a simple way that we used while testing the product. Install any
protocol analyzer such as WireShark on your machine from which you are sending
secured mails and capture all SMTP packets.

Now, when you send an encrypted mail, you can open packets using SMTP
protocol along with the title message body. Here, you can easily see that the
message body of the mail is encrypted. You can also send a normal mail (without
using Secured eMail software) through Outlook and capture SMTP packets. You will
be able to read all matter in the message body, whereas earlier when mail was
sent using Secured eMail, the message text appeared garbled.

By configuring the Archiving Options of
Secured eMail, you can archive all sent and received encrypted messages at
a desired location


This figure shows the dump of
message body packets of an encrypted e-mail intercepted using WireShark

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