Want to keep your email safe from prying eyes? Encipher.it is a free snippet of code that you can store in your browser bookmarks to encrypt email, or any block of text you enter on a website.
To set it up, direct your Web browser to encipher.it, scroll to the Add Bookmark section, and add the Encipher It link to your bookmarks bar. In Firefox or Google Chrome, you can just click the Encipher It link and drag it to the Bookmarks bar; in Internet Explorer, you must right-click the link and select Add to Favorites.
When you’re ready to use it, load up your Web-based email in your browser, and compose a message. Click the Encipher.it bookmarklet, and it will prompt you to enter an encryption key for your message. Include any string of numbers and letters you wish (the longer and more complicated your encryption key is, the better), but be sure to make a note of your string, as your message will be unreadable without this key (or some serious decryption software). Once you’re satisfied with the key, click Encrypt, and the add-on will apply a 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) algorithm that runs in real time; 256-bit encryption is the same kind of data protection that the websites of many banks and government services employ.
The Encipher.it bookmarklet should transform your message into a block of gibberish and append a link to the Encipher.it website so that your recipients can download the bookmarklet to decrypt your message. Decrypting is simple for recipients once they have your key, which you can supply via a separate email, a text message, or even an old-fashioned phone call. Only those people who have the key can read your email message. This arrangement can keep your private data safe on public computers, but it can also help to protect you if someone hacks into your email account.
Encipher.it isn’t limited to email; it can encrypt most text you type in a browser, including messages sent via Facebook and other social networks. The bookmarklet runs all code locally on your PC, so there’s no danger of Encipher.it staff or someone else listening in as you transmit messages to a server for encryption/decryption. Nevertheless, for even more peace of mind, you should know how to encrypt email through other means, and how to secure your wireless network. Finally, for more information, see our guide to encrypting files on your Windows PC.