How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird


Emails are by default just like postcards. That’s superior on the 1 hand, as it makes sure that sender and receiver can browse the email messages with out troubles.

It implies however as well that anyone or something that is in the supply chain may well browse individuals emails as well.

This is carried out by some email vendors to provide specific ad to its people for instance. E-mail encryption is not a new thought, but it never ever actually designed the bounce in the mass industry. Customers who required to could encrypt email messages ten a long time back and even previously than that.

The greater part of people on the other hand really don’t. A single rationale for that is that it is not super-uncomplicated to use encryption first since it is not actually supported by the greater part of email vendors out of the box, and second since it involves that recipients will need to do some thing to browse these emails, and reply with encrypted messages of their individual.

The subsequent manual is a fundamental tutorial that points out in simple conditions how to set up email encryption in Thunderbird.

Below is what you will need:

  • A duplicate of the Thunderbird email consumer.
  • The Thunderbird include-on Enigmail.
  • A duplicate of Gpg4win if you are making use of Windows.

Location up email encryption in Thunderbird

Initial point you will need to do is obtain the systems from the linked resources pointed out in the final paragraph. Put in Thunderbird if you have not carried out so already, and Gpg4win.  You will need to have at the very least 1 account in Thunderbird to finish the configuration. If you have none, get started by adding an email account or producing a new 1.

The Gpg4win installer displays installation modules when you operate it. I advise you retain the defaults, but take away the Outlook plugin component as you may well not demand it.

At the time you are carried out with that, fireplace up Thunderbird and go to Tools > Addons. Change to Extensions if a different menu is selected by default, and simply click on the cogwheel icon next to lookup.

Pick put in include-on from file, and select the Enigmail include-on that you downloaded beforehand. Adhere to the installation dialog to finish the installation.

You should see Enigmail listed as a new extension afterwards. Click on on the solutions link first that is shown next to the extension, and make sure the GnuPGP installation was found. Enigmail should select up the installation courtesy of Gpg4win. Shut the window afterwards once more.

Pick Enigmail > Set up Wizard afterwards. Keep the default selection “I favor a common configuration (suggested for newbies)” and simply click on next. If you already know your way all-around, find the superior or guide configuration solutions as an alternative.

These listing further solutions and use much less screens to develop critical pairs. Supplemental solutions incorporate setting a critical expiration date, as well as the critical sizing and style.

You may well import existing settings as well if you have accessibility to a earlier installation already.

configure-enigmail How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

Enigmail displays all offered accounts on the next web page. If you have not used Gpg4win just before, you should only see a take a look at account listed there.

Given that you have not developed a critical pair yet, find “I want to develop a new critical pair for signing and encrypting my email”.

create-new-encryption-pair How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

A critical pair is composed of a community and a personal critical. The community critical needs to be despatched or designed offered to others so that they may well use it to encrypt emails. The personal critical is own, and should not be shared or designed offered. It is used to decrypt any email that was encrypted making use of the linked community critical.

Enigmail points out the critical thought of critical pairs on the next web page. You are questioned to select a person account from the offered Thunderbird accounts

Pick 1 of the accounts, and select a — really — protected passphrase. The passphrase guards the personal critical and it is necessary that it is protected as a person could be capable to brute force or guess it otherwise.

pgp-pair-create How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

Pick next as soon as you have added the passphrase and selected 1 of the offered accounts.

Enigmail generates the critical on the next web page. The extension states that this may well consider a pair of minutes, and that “actively searching or carrying out disk-intensive operations” will velocity up the critical technology approach.

key-generation How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

You are unable to approach following the critical technology, as you are expected to develop a revocation certification as well. This is used in scenarios exactly where you will need to revoke the community critical, for instance following you have dropped it, are unable to remember the passphrase of the personal critical, or if a procedure has been compromised.

Pick “develop revocation certification” to get started the approach. You are questioned to enter the passphrase at this position and are unable to progress with out it.

recovation-certificate How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

Thunderbird opens a conserve file dialog afterwards. Help you save the revocation certification to a protected spot, for instance encrypted storage on a connected drive, or even improved, a Flash drive or CD that you set elsewhere so that it is not physically in the vicinity of the product you are making use of.

Pick the next button afterwards, and then complete to finish the approach.


openpgp-options How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

To validate that anything has been set up the right way, find Tools > Account Configurations. Find the account you developed a critical pair for, and open “OpenPGP Safety” that is listed as an possibility underneath it.

The possibility “Enable OpenPGP aid (Enigmail) for this identification) should be checked, and you should see that a distinct OpenPGP critical is selected as well.

Spreading your community critical

attach-public-key How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

Other people will need to use the community critical to mail encrypted emails to you that you can decrypt making use of your personal critical. Similarly, these other people will need to develop a critical pair of their individual, and advise you about their community critical so that you can mail them encrypted emails making use of their community critical as well.

You have a pair of solutions when it comes to sending others your community critical.

The key solutions that you have are the subsequent ones:

  1. Use the “Attach my General public Key” possibility when you are producing emails. Enigmail adds a button to the compose window that you can simply click on so that the community critical is hooked up instantly to emails that you compose.
  2. Make the most of a community critical server. You may well add your community critical to a community keyserver for a lot easier distribution. These critical repositories can be accessed by anyone. To do so, find Enigmail > Key Management. Pick the critical you want to add to a keyserver, and find Keyserver > Upload General public Keys afterwards.

Importing community keys

keyserver-find-public-keys How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

You will need to import community keys just before you can use them. If you use Enigmail, this can be carried out in many ways:

  1. Double-clicking on the .asc critical file to import the critical.
  2. Browsing for keys making use of Enigmail > Key Management > Keyserver > Search for keys.

Validate keys

enigmail-sign-key How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

Signing keys is a type of verification. Given that you really don’t actually know if a critical has been tampered with, you may well validate it through other forms of communication.

Maybe in excess of a (protected) cellphone call, or in man or woman. To validate a critical, find Enigmail > Key Management. Double-simply click on the critical identify that you want to validate to open the critical houses.

You locate a “certify” button next to validity on the web page that opens. Click on on it, and find the “I have carried out really thorough examining” and style the passphrase afterwards.

Encrypting and decrypting emails

encrypt-message How to encrypt your emails in Thunderbird

Now that you are carried out setting up Enigmail, it is time to encrypt emails, and decrypt them. To encrypt a concept, simply just simply click on the encrypt button in the compose window to do so. You may well sign the concept as well, and connect the community critical to it.

You will need the recipients community critical to encrypt email messages. If you really don’t have them, you are unable to use the encrypt possibility to guard it from prying eyes.

If you include attachments to encrypted emails, you are queried on how you want to tackle individuals. You can mail attachments not encrypted as portion of the concept, or encrypted in several ways (inline PGP, PGP/Mime separately or as a total).

Thunderbird will inquire for your passphrase to decrypt messages that are encrypted. These are then shown just like any other email.

Closing Words

Set up is not complicated and it requires a pair of minutes to develop your first critical pair and configure the extension and Thunderbird appropriately.

The biggest challenge is to get others to use PGP. If you are the tech savvy 1 in your family, at work or your circle of buddies, you may well will need to assist others in setting this up.

Now You: Do you encrypt your email messages?

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