What is PGP in the email and why is it so important?

2 min
Tags: PGP Email encryption End-to-end encryption Swisscows.email

The protection of one’s own privacy is an important concern for most Internet users. No one wants to be spied on by third parties and make their personal data accessible to other people without being asked. For Swisscows, this basic need of Internet users has top priority. For this reason, the company relies on the PGP encryption method for its Swisscows.email service.

What is PGP in the email?

PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy and is a program that can encrypt and sign emails. The use of PGP is so important because it guarantees the protection of privacy and the security of email communication. The technology is based on a so-called asymmetric encryption method, also known as the public key method. This means that each participant has a pair of public and private keys that belong together. The public key is distributed to other participants or published on a key server, while the private key is kept secret.

To encrypt an email, you use the recipient's public key. To decrypt an email, you use your own private key. In this way, only the recipient can read the email and unauthorized third parties have no access to the content. Only your own private key is used to sign an email.

These are the advantages of PGP

PGP has several advantages for e-mail communication. The most important aspect: the program protects the privacy of users by preventing unauthorized persons from reading the content of emails. PGP encrypts not only the text, but also the attachments to the emails. The technology also increases security by ensuring that emails are authentic.

PGP signs the emails so that the identity of the sender can be verified and tampering can be detected. Last but not least, PGP promotes trust because it is based on a decentralized and self-organized system. The program does not require a central authority or certification authority to issue or manage the keys. The participants can determine and evaluate the trustworthiness of the keys themselves.

How is PGP set up?

In order to use PGP, you need software that supports this encryption program. These features can be installed as stand-alone applications or as extensions for common email programs or webmail services. To set up PGP, a key pair is first generated consisting of a public and a private key. It is important to choose a secure password to optimally protect the private key. The public key must then be sent to the desired communication partners or uploaded to a key server.

Use of PGP at Swisscows.email

When using Swisscows.email, you do not need to set up PGP, as email communication is encrypted with the program by default. The keys are stored on the company's own servers in Switzerland. This has the advantage that users can access their emails from different devices. Separate key storage systems are not required. A password assigned by the user protects the keys, making it impossible for third parties to use them. This even applies in the event of a hacker attack on the Swisscows.email server.