E -Mail Security for the 21 st Century

Contributed by Eric Christensen

E-mail has inherently been an unsecured method of communicating since its inception. While today email is a frequently used and convenient method of exchanging information, such usage was not planned for in the technology's beginning. The basic principles of e-mail were established more than thirty years ago when the Internet, then called ARPANET, was an emerging technology. Trust was a basic principle of the Internet back then. Universities, military, and governmental facilities were the only users of the Internet and everyone knew everyone else. Back then there wasn't a need for authentication of who actually sent the message because only a limited number of people could gain access to the networks over which the messages were traveling. When networks began connecting to each other, e-mail security became more important. Users realized that they needed verification of who was sending the message to make sure no one has changed the message during transit, and, in some cases, they realized they needed to secure that information against prying eyes.

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