Tech Learning Collective

Technology education for radical organizers and revolutionary communities.

Securing Email: Protecting Everyday Communications from GMail to ProtonMail

Poster for Securing Email: Protecting Everyday Communications from GMail to ProtonMail
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As one of the oldest digital communication methods, email is used for everything from pointless chain letters to critical financial statements and legal actions. The name “e-mail” might make you think that electronic mail works the same way that writing a physical letter does, but this isn’t entirely true. From a technical perspective, it’s more like “e-postcards” because, just like sending a postcard through the postal service, anyone who handles your postcard can read what you wrote.

In the physical world, protecting your correspondence requires you to take the extra step of putting your letter inside an envelope and then sealing the envelope. That way, no one looking at the outside of the envelope can read what you wrote on the letter paper. To protect your email in the digital world, you still have to take this extra step of putting your letter inside a metaphorical envelope. Some services, like ProtonMail, claim to do this for you, but fail to do so in many common scenarios. Meanwhile, many people believe that just using Google’s GMail service means all your email content is always readable by Google, but this isn’t always true either.

This workshop will demystify the nuance of email privacy and security. By using freely available OpenPGP-compatible software, which has been available since 1991, the Tech Learning Collective’s cybersecurity instructors will show you how you can keep your message contents private regardless of the email service provider you use. Never send paperwork with your social security number or other sensitive details on a digital postcard to your lawyer or accountant ever again!