Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Perfecting email security

Date:
September 10, 2012
Source:
Inderscience Publishers
Summary:
On the whole, security is not a primary concern for most day-to-day emails, but some emails do contain person, proprietary and sensitive information, documents, media, photos, videos and sound files and need protection.

Millions of us send billions of emails back and forth each day without much concern for their security. On the whole, security is not a primary concern for most day-to-day emails, but some emails do contain personal, proprietary and sensitive information, documents, media, photos, videos and sound files. Unfortunately, the open nature of email means that they can be intercepted and if not encrypted easily read by malicious third parties. Even with the PGP -- pretty good privacy -- encryption scheme first used in 1995, if a sender's private "key" is compromised all their previous emails encrypted with that key can be exposed.

Writing in the International Journal of Security and Networks, computer scientists Duncan Wong and Xiaojian Tian of City University of Hong Kong, explain how previous researchers had attempted to define perfect email privacy that utilizes PGP by developing a technique that would preclude the decryption of other emails should a private key be compromised. Unfortunately, say Wong and Tian this definition fails if one allows the possibility that the email server itself may be compromised, by hackers or other malicious users.

The team has now defined perfect forward secrecy for email as follows and suggested a technical solution to enable email security to be independent of the server used to send the message: "An e-mail system provides perfect forward secrecy if any third party, including the e-mail server, cannot recover previous session keys between the sender and the recipient even if the long-term secret keys of the sender and the recipient are compromised."

By building a new email protocol on this principle, the team suggests that it is now possible to exchange emails with almost zero risk of interference from third parties. "Our protocol provides both confidentiality and message authentication in addition to perfect forward secrecy," they explain.

The team's protocol involves Alice sending Bob an encrypted email with the hope that Charles will not be able to intercept and decrypt the message. Before the email is encrypted and sent the protocol suggested by Wong and Tian has Alice's computer send an identification code to the email server. The server creates a random session "hash" that is then used to encrypt the actual encryption key for the email Alice is about to send. Meanwhile, Bob as putative recipient receives the key used to create the hash and bounces back an identification tag. This allows Alice and Bob to verify each other's identity.

These preliminary steps are all automatically and without Alice or Bob needing to do anything in advance. Now, Alice writes her email, encrypts it using PGP and then "hashes" it using the random key from the server. When Bob receives the encrypted message he uses his version of the hash to unlock the container within which the PGP-encrypted email sits. Bob then uses Alice's public PGP key to decrypt the message itself. No snoopers on the internet between Alice and Bob, not even the email server ever have access to the PGP encrypted email in the open. Moreover, because a different key is used to lock up the PGP encrypted email with a second one-time layer, even if the PGP security is compromised past emails created with the same key cannot be unlocked.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Inderscience Publishers. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Duncan S. Wong, Xiaojian Tian. E-mail protocols with perfect forward secrecy. International Journal of Security and Networks, 2012; 7 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1504/IJSN.2012.048491

Cite This Page:

Inderscience Publishers. "Perfecting email security." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910112525.htm>.
Inderscience Publishers. (2012, September 10). Perfecting email security. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910112525.htm
Inderscience Publishers. "Perfecting email security." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910112525.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Aereo Takes on Broadcast TV Titans in Supreme Court Today

Aereo Takes on Broadcast TV Titans in Supreme Court Today

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) Aereo heads to the Supreme Court today to fight for its right to stream broadcast TV over the Internet -- against broadcasters who say the start-up infringes upon copyright law. TheStreet Deputy Managing Editor Leon Lazaroff explains the importance of the case in the TV industry and details what the outcome of it could mean for broadcasters and for cloud storage services -- as Aereo allows its subscribers to not just watch live TV shows but also store content to a DVR in the cloud. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) The light-field photography engineers at Lytro unveiled their next innovation: a professional DSLR-like camera called "Illum." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins