Posts tagged outlook

How to easily encrypt email with Virtru for free: Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo

How to easily encrypt email, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo; Virtru is free, protects your digital privacy, and is so super easy to use that even your non-techie grandma could and should use it.

I believe privacy is a fundamental right, so what better way to celebrate Data Privacy Day than to show you how to encrypt email easily and keep those emails both private and secure?

Meet Virtru, an email security app that encrypts your email before it leaves your device; it includes fine-grained privacy controls so only you and the person to whom you sent the email can access it…meaning government snoops, third parties, advertisers, ISPs and even cybercrooks can’t access your email messages. Thanks to Virtru’s Chrome and Firefox browser extensions, you can keep your Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo email accounts and still have secure and private email. And you can protect your digital privacy for the low, low price of FREE! Virtru is so super easy to use that even your non-techie grandma could and should use it.

Before we jump to the how-to, let me introduce the founders of Virtru: brothers Will and John Ackerly. When Will worked at the NSA as a cloud security architect, he invented the Trusted Data Format (TDF) that Virtru, and intelligence agencies, use. “After serving eight years at the NSA, he came away from the experience entirely convinced that users need to take action to preserve their own privacy.” John, who served as associate director of the National Economic Council and director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning at the Commerce Department under President George W. Bush, said of Virtru, “The fundamental motivator here is…the need to give individuals practical tools to exercise their fundamental right to privacy.”

How to encrypt email with Virtru
For webmail, Virtru currently offers a Chrome extension and Firefox add-on to encrypt Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail or Yahoo. There’s also a mobile app for Apple, with the Android app, as well as plugins for Outlook and Mac Mail programs, and extensions for Internet Explorer versions 10 and up, and Safari coming in the future. Although I’ve tested both Chrome and Firefox add-ons for Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo, the following examples are primarily screenshot captures from Gmail and Hotmail. Email addresses have been redacted.

First, go get the add-on for Firefox and/or Chrome. After it is installed in your browser, simply click to activate Virtru for your webmail.

Virtru app permissions in Outlook:

Virtru app permissions in Outlook

Virtru in Outlook first look:

Virtru in Outlook first look

Virtru activate message if you send encrypted Gmail to a person not using Virtru:

Virtru activate message if you send Gmail to person not using Virtru

Virtru security bar

Virtru security bar new in Hotmail, Gmail, Outlook, YahooYou will then receive a message notifying you about the Virtru security bar.

You can easily turn Virtru on and off. If it’s grayed-out, then it’s off. It’s blue when you turn on Virtru protection.

Easily turn Virtru security bar off and on

When Virtru is on in Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo, your “send” button Example of Virtru send secure buttonbecomes a “send secure” button as seen in this Outlook example.

Drafts on Yahoo are not encrypted by Virtru

As a side note of caution regarding the cloud, if you use Yahoo, then know that Yahoo drafts are not currently encrypted by Virtru. Try to avoid such drafts; it’s fodder for the mass surveillance powers-that-be if you’ve become a target.

Every email protected by Virtru is secured with the most Advanced Encryption Standard available, AES-256. The Virtru software, either installed via browser add-on or mobile app, encrypts your email before it leaves your device. When you hit send, Virtru protects the encryption keys with perfect forward secrecy. Only you and the person to whom you sent the email can access the content.

The TDF format controls access privileges for “all file types (ie, emails, text messages, Office files, pdfs, photos, videos).” When you send a Virtru-protected email, “your content is encrypted and secured inside a TDF wrapper. When your receiver attempts to open it, the wrapper communicates with the Virtru server to verify that the receiver is eligible to see the information.”

When you have installed Virtru and you receive an encrypted email, the decryption happens quickly when you open it.

Virtru decrypting email

Disable forwarding and set email expiration date

On the right-side of the Virtru security bar, you have options to disable email forwarding and to set up an expiration date for how long your recipient has access to your sent email.

Virtru disable email forwarding; set email expiration time

If you disable email forwarding, then if Alice sent email to Bob, and Bob forwarded Alice’s email to Mallory, Mallory would not be able to open it. Regarding The Register’s claim that a person can defeat Virtru by copying and pasting from the email, the fix for that is coming.

“On the copy/paste front, we have a technical solution, but we haven’t yet rolled it out,” Will told me. “Our main focus is on protecting the emails as they go from sender to recipient, as well as when stored on servers and your devices, but use after decryption isn’t our first ‘privacy’ concern.”

Revoke or reauthorize email messages
Virtru “thinks everyone deserves real privacy and control over their data, even after hitting the send button,” so sent email comes with an option to revoke access.The red hand icon allows you to revoke email; this is especially handy if you sent an unwise, angry email in haste.

Virtru revoke message

Below is what the recipient sees if you revoke access to a sent email:

Virtru revoked access message

Virtru, reauthorize revoked email

If you change your mind again, such as if the revoke access was due to a lover’s spat, then you click on the blue eye to reauthorize your recipient’s access to your sent email.

Virtru Secure Reader

If you want to send Virtru encrypted email to a person at work, who maybe does not have the admin rights to install browser add-ons, no problem. Virtru also has a web-based Secure Reader.

Virtru redirects to you have secure mail via browser add-on or install nothing and use web-based reader

When you send your first email to a person not using Virtru, if they choose the Virtru Secure Reader option, then they will be asked to verify their identity; this insures that only the recipient you intended can open the email. By using OpenID and OAuth protocols, the recipient does not need to setup a new account or yet another password. Instead, they can verify their identity via their existing Gmail, Microsoft or Yahoo email provider.

Virtru Secure Reader, verify your identity to use service where you received secure Virtru email

If your recipient forwards an email that you protected with “disable forwarding,” this is what the non-authorized person sees via Virtru Secure Reader.

Virtru secure reader, attempt to read forwarded email protected by disabled forwarding

Virtru wanted to make encryption easy for absolutely everyone to use without sacrificing security; the creators believe in your fundamental right to have digital privacy and provided a tool that combines strong encryption with granular privacy controls. They claim Virtru will change the way we use email, and it surely could. The purpose of all these screenshots was to show you every aspect of how easy it is to use Virtru.

For people who would like more in-depth details of how Virtru works, then I encourage you to go read more. Virtru also has an open source strategy, which includes making a collection of open source Virtru components available on GitHub.

Although it’s only in beta right now, I still highly recommend that you try Virtru. There is no reason Virtru should not be widely accepted by the masses to escape mass surveillance. Please do give it a try. Happy International Data Privacy Day! Why don’t you celebrate by taking back control of your email and digital privacy?


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Microsoft yanks Office for Mac 2011 upgrade

Halts auto delivery until it figures out why SP2 corrupts Outlook’s identity database

Computerworld – Microsoft last Friday pulled an Office for Mac 2011 major update from its upgrade servers, acknowledging bugs that have corrupted the Outlook database on some machines.
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Office for Mac 2011 Service Pack 2 (SP2) was released April 12. That same day, users who had upgraded began reporting problems on Microsoft’s support site, saying that they were unable to run Outlook, the suite’s email client.

Last Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed that the SP2 upgrade could in some cases corrupt the Outlook identity database, and offered workarounds to prevent that from happening for those who had not yet installed the service pack, as well as a step-by-step guide to reconstructing the database for those affected by the bug.

Three days later, Microsoft took more drastic action, shutting down the delivery of Office for Mac 2011 SP2 through the company’s automatic upgrade service.

“Our goal is provide the simplest update experience for everyone — so we have temporarily stopped pushing out the SP2 update through Microsoft AutoUpdate while we investigate the issue,” Microsoft announced in a Friday post to its Office for Mac blog.

The company did not say when it would restore SP2 to the automatic upgrade channel, but did tell users they were free to manually download the service pack from its website.

Microsoft has yanked updates from its servers before. The most serious examples in recent years were in February 2010 when it stopped serving a security update to Windows XP PCs that were crashing with the notorious “Blue Screen of Death,” and two years earlier, when Microsoft shut down an update for Windows Vista that crippled systems with endless reboots.

Office for Mac 2011 debuted in October 2010, and is available in two editions for the general public, as well as others for academic and enterprise customers.

Microsoft shipped the first service pack for Office for Mac 2011 just over a year ago.

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There’s not much new in Thunderbird 8

In line with its recent Firefox 8 update, Mozilla has rolled out version 8 of its open-source email platform. Thunderbird 8.0 follows the pattern of recent major version updates by not actually delivering much in the way of new features — understandable given the number of developers and testers working on Thunderbird are fewer than on Firefox.


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Like Firefox 8, Thunderbird is now based on the latest Mozilla Gecko 8 engine, while add-ons installed by third-party applications are now disabled by default for security reasons. There are also new Search and Find keyboard shortcuts alongside numerous security patches and bug fixes.

The new keyboard shortcuts have come about due to an ambiguity between using the [Ctrl] + [F] shortcut to both search using the Quick Filter and within individual messages depending on what was selected.  Now [Ctrl] + [F] is used specifically to search within selected messages; to search using the Quick Filter bar, use the brand new [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [K] shortcut instead.

Thunderbird 8 also includes what Mozilla describes as “improved accessibility of the attachment list” when composing emails. Changes include subtle alterations to the way attachments are displayed — the size of an attachment is now displayed to the right of the attachment name aligned right in grey, for example, while the overall look is designed to reflect the user’s own operating system, be it Windows, Mac or Linux. Attachments can now be navigated, opened, saved or deleted using keyboard shortcuts –- when selected using the arrow keys, press [Ctrl] + [S] to save the file, for example.

The most noticeable change to Thunderbird 8’s user interface is actually a feature that has gone missing — in previous versions of Thunderbird, the user could switch folder views between all folders, unified, unread, favorites and recent using a clickable bar at the top of the folder pane. This option, described as a “bug”, has been removed in Thunderbird 8, forcing the user to switch views using the View > Folders menu.

For those who cannot live without this feature, it can either be reactivated by tweaking theuserChrome.css file or — of more practical use to most – by installing the Folder Pane View Switcheradd-on.

Version 8 also includes a number of platform-specific fixes that squash bugs and improve stability, plus a number of security fixes. Expect Thunderbird 9 Beta and Earlybird 10 to follow in the next few days, again with minor changes the order of the day.

Thunderbird 8.0 Final is a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux.

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