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encrypt gmail messagesPrivacy 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.

encrypt gmail messages

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.

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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.

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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.

encrypt gmail messages

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.

Conclusion

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?

  1. Vera
    November 20, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Why didn't you mention that Google Chrome encrypts your Gmail messages _by default_, so you don't actually need any third-party add-ons for it? There is an article about that on their developers blog, http://blog.chromium.org/2011/06/new-chromium-security-features-june.html 

    • Tina
      December 2, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Vera,

      thank you for your question! Unfortunately, the author of this article has left our team and won't be responding to your question. Thank you for pointing out the GMail encryption!

  2. Steve Campbell
    September 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Hey Ammar. The service ensures that none of the information you encrypt/decrypt is ever kept on their servers. While you can visit the site to encrypt/decrypt messages it would be best to install the bookmarklet for easy conversion and sending via your own accounts.

  3. Steve Campbell
    September 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Haha well it works, doesn't it? I'm sure you could have some fun with this.

  4. Steve Campbell
    September 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    We're glad you think so!

  5. Grey_igloo_be
    September 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    What about sending emails to people who use Outlook? Will they be able to unencrypt the messages?

    • Steve Campbell
      September 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      While I have not tested this I see no reason why this wouldn't work.

  6. Anonymous
    September 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

    am bit skeptical about it. isnt there a risk of giving out our personal emails to Encypher (or whatever it is) I mean they can have asscess to our mails wont they?. Feel it kinda risky :-/

    • Steve Campbell
      September 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      From what I understand, Suhel, you aren't actually giving out anything. The bookmarklet just turns your message into cipher for you to send, then turns it back using the encryption protocol assigned to it.

      • Suhel
        September 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm

        yes, I understand Steve but what I think is this way, the bookmarklet would access the information on my page to encrypt messages what if it stumble upons the cookies of the page which may contain my email and password and who knows what these guys are upto. no doubt it can be a fun service but I'd rather stay away from it. :)

  7. SaltwaterC
    September 14, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Even more, Gmail saves drafts from time to time, therefore your message leaves your browser in a plain-text form if you don't count the SSL. You can see how the PKI is working lately, therefore it might defeat the purpose. Also, the key management is broken by design. If people really want AES for mail encryption they could try the SMIME method: public cert encryption / private key decription - supported by OpenSSL at least.

  8. Aibek
    September 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

    TEXT SAYS: "I think the whole idea is silly!"

  9. Ryo
    September 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Well, I was jumping a little bit in my chair at the beginning. This is what I'm looking for... BUT, why using a not-standardized way to encrypt/decrypt? Why couldn't it just use/invoke GPG?
    If I encrypt with this service, I'm stuck with it. That's the problem.

    • Steve Campbell
      September 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      Interesting point, Ryo. You would have to ask the developer(s) to answer that one.

  10. Ankur
    September 14, 2011 at 7:31 am

    good useful link but a bit doubtful about using someone else plugin for secret messages

    • Steve Campbell
      September 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      That is a valid point, Ankur. Perhaps you can find a fun use for it until you warm up to the service.

  11. Fonzie
    September 14, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Looks ok, but can I trust the company? Are they able to read my messages? I get a certificate error for this website in my browser. It's nice to use some kind of encryption tool in Gmail, but for encrypted messages I'd rather use enigmail in Thunderbird where I can create my own private keys.

    • Steve Campbell
      September 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      We haven't seen or heard anything to lead us to believe that you can't trust them. They've actually been around for a while.

  12. marek
    September 14, 2011 at 6:28 am

    simple and useful but does not work over proxy

    • Steve Campbell
      September 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Interesting! Have you tried using the bookmarklet?

  13. Abhinav
    September 14, 2011 at 4:10 am

    superb tool......

    • Steve Campbell
      September 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      We're glad you like it!

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