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What are the Advantages of Keyword Encryption for Emails?

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What are the Advantages of Keyword Encryption for Emails?

Email is one of the most insecure ways to communicate, but it’s also one of the most convenient and common for any corporation. Because of this, it’s important to protect messages from eavesdropping and tampering. An effective way to protect email messages is encryption, and keyword encryption is one method used to scramble messages so that they are unreadable to an attacker but can be decrypted by the intended recipient.

 

What is Keyword Encryption?

You can choose many different ciphers and ways to encrypt messages, but keyword encryption is the most common way businesses protect email from eavesdropping. Keyword encryption involves replacing the letters of a message with the letters determined by the word or phrase that you choose.

The first step in keyword encryption is to write out the alphabet:

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Now, choose a keyword.  We’ll use the keyword TITAN. Place the keyword under the alphabet and fill out the rest of the letters using the alphabet until all letters are covered. Note that repeat letters in your cipher must be removed.

Since TITAN has two T’s, the keyword is changed to TIAN and these four letters are removed from the rest of the cipher to avoid any duplicate letters in the encrypted message.

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

TIANBCDEFGHJKLMOPQRSUVWXYZ

With the cipher written out, now you use it to replace letters in your message. For example, A becomes a T, B becomes an I, C becomes an A, and then D becomes an N. Notice how the duplicate letters in the cipher are removed to ensure that letters do not represent more than one letter in the alphabet.

The next step is to write a message. Let’s say that you want to write “HELLO” in a message. You take the letters from your message and swap out the original letters for the ones used in the cipher. HELLO then becomes:

EBJJP

To reverse this message, you need the original keyword encryption cipher. Because the cipher is made from your own chosen keyword, you must keep the keyword protected at all costs or the message can be decrypted.

As you can see, a large message encrypted using a keyword cipher would be unreadable should an attacker intercept it. Any tampering would ruin the message, and the recipient would not be able to decipher the message to a readable format. Using this method, corporations can better protect sensitive messages that must be sent across the internet using email services. It also protects messages from being read after an attacker steals a user’s email service password.

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Using Keyword Encryption in Corporate Emails

It’s not uncommon for employees to use email messages to pass sensitive information either to other employees or to customers. Compliance regulations disallow some sensitive information from being passed in email, but it’s also not uncommon for employees to be unaware of these regulations or accidentally send sensitive data in email. With keyword encryption, the corporation has an extra layer of protection in case of eavesdropping or an email server compromise.

Individual users can work with keyword encryption too, but it’s mostly beneficial to businesses. Also, many users now work from home as a new post-pandemic effort to provide employees with a better work-life balance. It’s also useful for productivity when a user gets sick. However, it means that users have sensitive information stored on their local device, and it adds risk to the corporate environment.

Should an attacker compromise a user’s personal device, encrypted email would still be unreadable unless the attacker can obtain access to the keyword cipher. Another advantage is if email messages get intercepted by an attacker. Email has seen several cybersecurity tools added to the technology to help protect data, but the added security does not address data interception should an attacker compromise an email server or tap into communications between email servers.

In addition to encrypting messages, keyword encryption can also protect attachments. Employees sending attachments such as Excel spreadsheets or Word documents could leave the organization vulnerable to data interception. If only the message is encrypted, it does not protect from data theft by intercepting the attachments.

Usually, attachments have much more sensitive information, and tampering with them could leave the organization open to additional attacks such as malicious macros and malware. Because of these risks, attachments should also be encrypted, and keyword encryption will use a cipher to encrypt these file attachments as well.

 

Email Cybersecurity for Corporations and MSPs

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) must deal with cybersecurity including email protection. Keyword encryption is one way an MSP can ensure that their clients have the best data protection available for email communication. TitanHQ’s EncryptTitan offers a way for MSPs and corporations to rapidly roll out email cybersecurity so that communication is protected. It’s one of the many products TitanHQ uses to ensure email cybersecurity is effective against numerous attacks including phishing, data theft, eavesdropping, social engineering, and malware attachments.

TitanHQ’s EncryptTitan is cloud-based, which makes it easier to roll out for on-premises users as well as those working from home and connecting to the local network. Inappropriate use of email is not uncommon whether it’s intentional or human error, but EncryptTitan adds a layer of security to email messaging so that any intentional or unintentional misuse of sensitive data is safeguarded from eavesdropping and loss. 

When data is protected, organizations reduce the risk of hefty fines from compliance violations, and customer data is protected from identity theft and fraud.

Outlook is commonly used in most organizations as an email client, and EncryptTitan has a convenient Outlook plugin users can install that adds the keyword encryption feature to their device. It works on any environment regardless of email server operating system or platform, which makes it easy for MSPs to ensure security for numerous customers.

By using EncryptTitan, corporations can protect their brand image and save from expensive reputation damage and management. MSPs can help their small business customers integrate better cybersecurity and defend against data loss.

Sign up for a FREE Demo of EncryptTitan to learn how your business will benefit from keyword encryption.

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