The Case For Installing An Email Certificate

Millions of emails are sent every day to both known recipients such as family and friends as well as to new email addresses. Most people assume that email is sent through a secure method, but unless you are using an email certificate this really isn't the case.

The reality is that information exchanged in emails unless the person has a personal authentication certificate installed, are open for potential public view. Think of it as the old fashioned option of sending a postcard where everyone can stop and read the information should they choose this option.

The vast majority of individuals sending emails over corporate or personal email systems have no ability to detect any possible breaches in security. These can include the interception and modification of the email, known as a man-in-the-middle attack, or through direct snooping on the transfer of information.

The Man-in-the-Middle Attack

An email certificate can be used to prevent any concerns about man-in-the-middle attacks. These are situations where a hacker intercepts an email and makes changes, then sends it on to the receiver. The receiver, assuming the email is from a valid source, either completes a download or responds, providing information to the man-in-the-middle that can provide options to hack into one or both systems.

It is also a highly effective way to eavesdrop or find out information about both parties. As the receiver assumes the questions or the request for information is coming from a legitimate source, they provide the information. They don't realize that the email has been modified to suit the needs of the man-in-the-middle attacker and is not the content or the requests for information from the trusted sender.

This can occur with public keys if the original message is not encrypted with an email certificate as a digital signature. Once the sender includes the digital signature, it will be obvious and evident to the receiver that is either an authentic message or it has been altered.

In some cases, it is not even that the message has been altered. Instead, it is that the man-in-the-middle is now creating specific content and inserting keys. When emails are not using keys, the intercepting party can insert any key, creating a false secure pathway. Then, as information is exchanged, that third party is really the only party with the ability to decode or decrypt the information sent by both sender and receiver.

Proactive Defense

The best protection from a man-in-the-middle attack is with and email certificate that uses SSL or secure sockets layer technology. The new version of the technology is actually known as TLS or Transport Sockets Layer, but it is still known as SSL.

This includes the use of HTTPS and PKI. PKI stands for Public Key Infrastructure which controls the way that digital certificates are created, stored and even revoked. This is really the heart of the ability of any email certificate or SSL/TLS product to be able to provide the most secure option in the transfer of electronic information and data.

Most people don't realize that email doesn't just go from sender to receiver. It can go through multiple servers en route from the sender to the receiver. At any server, as well as in between, there is the possibility of an interception or reading of this information.

To address this issue, the server may be equipped with what is known as a server authentication SSL. This is a certificate for the specific server that allows the server to transmit information (emails) to your computer in the encrypted format. However, once you send the email forward to any other server it again becomes open to eavesdropping.

Sometimes people are concerned about the cost. At Comodo, we offer a free email certificate for personal use that is very easy to apply for and then install. Not all webmail clients support all of these certificates, but most of the commonly used desktop email clients are set up to be able to accept these types of certificates.

To learn more about the use of personal authentication certificates, including our Comodo free version, talk to our sales staff at You can also give us a call at +1 888 266 6361 if you have any questions.

It is important to realize that protecting your email from man-in-the-middle attacks and eavesdropping is critical to your online security. It will also stop any concerns about emails that may have been altered after sending, providing security to both yourself and the recipient in corporate and personal email communication.

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