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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Proton Mail Key Transparency will confirm electronic mail addresses

After turning electronic mail into end-to-end encrypted communication, Proton Mail Key Transparency will shut one other potential safety gap, says the corporate: making certain you’re emailing the precise particular person …


By default, electronic mail is a plain textual content type of communication – and your emails move by a number of servers earlier than they attain the recipient. That implies that anybody with full entry to these servers might learn your mail.

PGP – or Fairly Good Privateness – is an electronic mail encryption protocol designed to make sure privateness. Emails despatched to you’re encrypted utilizing your public key, which anybody can entry, and may then solely be decrypted together with your non-public key, which is understood solely to you.

PGP turns electronic mail into an end-to-end encrypted communication, nevertheless it’s not particularly user-friendly to implement, which is the issue Proton Mail got down to clear up. Supplied each you and your electronic mail contacts are utilizing Proton Mail, then PGP is mechanically utilized with out both get together having to do something apart from ship and obtain electronic mail.

What began out as a distinct segment product has grown to 100 million customers, and the corporate has diversified into password managers, VPN, storage and extra.

Proton Mail Key Transparency

Whereas Proton Mail ensures that the content material of your electronic mail is secure from snooping, there may be nonetheless one other potential safety gap, says the corporate. A foul actor might spoof an electronic mail from one among your contacts, main you to answer to the incorrect particular person. Spoofing electronic mail headers may be very simple to do.

To unravel that, Fortune stories that the corporate is getting ready to launch Proton Mail Key Transparency. It is a technique to confirm that an electronic mail tackle actually belongs to the particular person behind it.

The strategy makes use of blockchain expertise – although the corporate’s CEO, Andy Yen, was fast to level out that whereas this tech is greatest recognized for cryptocurrency, the corporate is on no account concerned in that specific minefield.

The difficulty, Yen mentioned, is making certain that the general public key truly belongs to the supposed recipient. 

“Possibly it’s the NSA that has created a pretend public key linked to you, and I’m by some means tricked into encrypting knowledge with that public key,” he advised Fortune. Within the safety area, the tactic is named a “man-in-the-middle assault,” like a postal employee opening your financial institution assertion to get your social safety quantity after which resealing the envelope.

Blockchains are an immutable ledger, which means any knowledge initially entered onto them can’t be altered. Yen realized that placing customers’ public keys on a blockchain would create a file making certain these keys truly belonged to them—and could be cross-referenced at any time when different customers ship emails.

Successfully, everybody places their public keys on the market in plain sight on the blockchain, and anybody can verify the general public keys they maintain in opposition to that public file. As a result of the database is decentralised, it could actually’t be compromised by a hacker.

As with PGP, Proton Mail customers received’t must do something to make the most of it. Each time you electronic mail somebody, the Proton Mail app will verify the general public key in opposition to the blockchain database to make sure it’s right.

The corporate is at the moment operating Proton Mail Key Transparency by itself servers as a proof of idea, whereas transferring it to a public blockchain could be wanted to offer the required confidence.

Blockchain visualization: Shubham Dhage/Unsplash

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