The Internet, as we all are well aware of, has become a part of everyday life. Internet is the need for most of the transactions occurring across the globe, it is one of the best means of communication; it is the best way to reach out to the masses and is precisely the technological boon that has made the world a small place to live. Emails are an integral part of the Internet. They serve as communicators between friends world over. To me, emails are options similar to the idea of making pen-friends. Emails travel along the network, take the right paths and reach the intended receiver. They help you stay in touch with close friends in this busy life of today. As, emails are so important for all the computer savvy people, email privacy has become an equally important concern. Email privacy issues arise when it comes to sending plain text over the Internet. Let us look at the email privacy issues in detail.
Mails contain headers and the tracing of mails includes the analysis of email header information. An email header contains the source of the message and the list of every point along which the mail has traveled. The examination of an email header can give the information about the sender as also the sender machine's IP address. Moreover an email traveling through many computers across the network is vulnerable to get accessed by intruders.
Secondly, spam, the most irritable issue, is also an email privacy issue. Spam mails eat up huge amounts of bandwidths and annoy the receivers. Unsolicited messages are often used to compel the users to reveal their personal information. Spam mails are commonly used to ask for information that can be used by the attackers. Trojans can attack a computer system in dangerous ways. They are powerful enough to give the attackers complete access to a user's computer system. Trojans include programs, which log the users' keystrokes, thus hacking personal information and passwords keyed in through that computer system.
The safeguarding of email messages from unauthorized access and inspection is known as electronic privacy. Much of the Internet is susceptible to attacks. Emails travel across the unprotected paths of the Internet, becoming vulnerable to attack by intruders. E-mails are subject to unauthorized access, revealing confidential information on the network, thus breaching email privacy. Emails are susceptible to eavesdropping. They journey across several routers and smaller networks and if unshielded, are bound to be attacked. An insufficiently protected router can serve as means of an unauthorized access to emails. Intelligent software can screen email contents quite easily. Moreover emails receivers tend to compromise email privacy by indiscriminately forwarding the emails. Indiscriminate forwarding is often responsible for revelation of contact information and names of all those in that email thread.
Technology has offered solutions to the email privacy issues. The issues have been resolved to a certain extent by the successful implementation of security measures. The security measures include cryptography, digital signatures and the use of secure protocols, which can ensure email privacy to a certain extent.
PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is one of the encryption standards that encrypts and decrypts the email message. This standard of encryption is a part of most of today's operating systems. Email encryption is another method that achieves email privacy. It is achieved by means of public key cryptography. The popularly used protocols for email encryption are S/MIME, TLS and OpenPGP.
Digital signatures provide us with another way of ensuring email privacy. A digitally signed email message confirms to the receiver, the identity of the sender, thus enabling email privacy. A digitally signed electronic document serves as an assurance of the unaltered and original nature of the email content. This technique fights email spoofing, which involves a manipulation of an email header to make the email appear to have originated from another source.
Email authentication methods are used to equip messages with verifiable information sufficient for the receiver to recognize the nature of incoming messages. In an effort to stop spamming, the valid identity of an email has to be checked. The Transmission Control Protocol and the IP address registries help recipients of emails to verify the IP addresses of the sender. Blacklisting attempts to segregate IP addresses that are of spammers who intend to breach email privacy. But due to the use of dynamic IP addresses, blacklisting fails to become a foolproof plan to fight email privacy issues.
Technology has raised email privacy issues and human intellect has succeeded in finding remedies to them. But when it is about safeguarding privacy, ethics is something that matters most.