Privacy is always one of the major concerns that people have while they are communicating over the Internet. Whether it’s entering payment information on a site like Paypal or Amazon or sending an important email or other type of message, users don’t just want to think their information is kept private, they want to know that it is. With the rise in popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, this concern has never been greater.
One thing you can do to add an extra level of security is encrypt messages before sending them. Believe it or not, this is extremely easy to do. In this article, I’m going to show you how to encrypt your Gmail and Facebook messages. Get ready to hear James Bond and Mission Impossible references from your friends.
What Is Encipher.it?
To encipher, encode, or encrypt a message means to convert it into cipher, which is basically a random assortment of figures and numerals. Encipher.it (directory app) is a simple bookmarklet that allows you to encode and decode messages before you send them. Encipher.it uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to protect your data, and all encoding/decoding is done locally in your browser.
How Do I Use Encipher.it?
As I alluded to before, Encipher.it is very easy to install and use. The first step is to head over to the homepage to get the bookmarklet. If you have Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, you can just drag the Encipher It link up to your Bookmarks Bar.
If you’re still using Internet Explorer as your primary browser, well, you may have additional security concerns (switch to Chrome!), but you can use Encipher.it as well. Just right-click the link and click “Add to Favorites” rather than dragging it anywhere.
Now when you’re logged into Gmail or Facebook messages, or most any other place you visit for communication purposes, just type your message like normal. Once you’re done, click your newly added bookmark. An Encipher.it box will popup prompting you to enter an encryption key. This can be anything really, and it functions like a password. The person who receives your message will need to know the key in order to decode and view your message.
After you set your encryption key and click the Encrypt button, your message will turn into cypher and will include a sentence at the top explaining that it is encrypted using Encipher.it, so your friends won’t think you’re intoxicated upon receiving your message. They can just click on the bookmark and enter the decryption key the same as you did to convert the message back to its original, readable format.
I like using Encipher.it because it’s simple and actually kind of fun. You can try it for yourself at the bottom of Encipher.it’s website, but to be honest with you, the process of installing the bookmarklet is so simple you might as well just try it out that way to get the full experience. The ‘try it’ section on the website can be useful, however, if your friends don’t want to install the bookmarklet.
Another thing to think about is the encryption key you choose and how to get it to the other person viewing your message. If you want to make your key secure, you should ideally want to treat it the way you would any of your other secure passwords. You can use uppercase letters, symbols, numbers, etc. You may also want to tell your recipient beforehand (in person) what the code will be so they know how to decode the message. Otherwise you run the risk of sending an unsecured key over the Internet, which puts your message at risk as well.
At any rate, you should feel confident communicating important information with those you know online. A little added security can’t hurt, right? What do you think of Encipher.it? Or do you prefer something else?