Year after year, more and more companies are choosing to use encryption to secure their outgoing messages and data. Even more than half of entities declare the use of all kinds of encryption methods, at the forefront of which are S/MIME certificates. Implementing them in an organisation enables, among other things, a secure mail flow within the organisation by quickly verifying the origin of each message.

What are S/MIME certificates?

S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions), also commonly referred to as email IDs, are secure email extensions that allow outgoing messages to be signed and encrypted so that only the sender and a designated recipient can see them.

X.509 Certificates

Certificates that encrypt messages based on the PKI structure and generated cryptographic keys, ensuring that only the specified recipient is able to decrypt and read the message using the assigned private key.

They contain the most important information about the party holding the certificate, giving confidence in its identity, including

  • Common name (name / entity / other) 
  • Certificate validity period
  • Information about the algorithm used to generate the key

What is encryption?

This is how we define the process of converting plain text into a so-called ciphertext, which can only be read by a party with the right private key. Even if the content reaches the wrong person by mistake or as a result of a cyber attack, it will not be readable for the recipient without the matching key.

S/MIME and X.509 certificates work on this principle – the recipient is only able to access the transmitted data on a device with an anchored certificate and corresponding key.

Why is it worth it?

S/MIME certificates offer the possibility not only to encrypt, but also to add a digital signature to sent messages. The digital signature underneath the sent content provides assurance that the message has not been modified and allows for verification of the sender’s identity.

What’s more, no certificate is required to verify identity, only the S/MIME control.

All features serve as a protective shield within an organisation, ensuring the secure transmission of information via email.

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All rights reserved to Cryptive Krzysztof Osiński – 2022

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