What Is a Secure Email Certificate? Here’s Your Ultimate Guide!

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A secure email certificate, also known as an S/MIME certificate or an email signing certificate, is used by anyone who sends emails for business-related purposes that contain sensitive information. It’s widely used by small businesses, SMBs, and large corporations because it does two extraordinary things:

  1. It attaches a digital signature to the email that verifies that you (and not an imposter) sent the email, and that the email hasn’t been altered since it was sent.
  2. It encrypts your emails before they ever leave your mailbox so they can only be opened by your intended recipients. This provides both data in-transit and data at-rest protection.

Let’s understand each of the above-stated functions in detail.

A Digital Signature Warns Users Whether an Email Has Been Altered

When you install a secure email certificate on your email server (such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.), it automatically attaches your digital signature to all of your outgoing emails. This digital signature is encrypted and produces a unique hash value. If anyone tries to alter this digital signature, the hash value changes. This warns the sender and recipient that something about the email is fishy.

Essentially, the encrypted digital signature assures the recipient that your email is valid, and it was sent by you/your company and is not a phishing email.

End-to-End Email Encryption: Protects Data in Transit and At Rest  

End-to-end email encryption means that your emails are protected from one end of the transaction to another. This means that before you even hit “send,” your email is encrypted. A secure email certificate encrypts the entire content of the email until the email reaches the intended recipient’s inbox and is decrypted. So, if anyone breaks into the email network, all they would see is a bunch of random numbers and letters, which won’t be of use to them! That’s because the actual message can be decrypted and read only by the intended recipient through the use of public key encryption.

In other words, a secure email certificate helps to ensure that your email contents arrive in the same condition as they were sent. Nothing is added, deleted, or altered while the email was in the transit.

If both the sender and recipient have installed a secure email certificate on their individual endpoints, all the signed emails stored and archived on the recipient’s email server also stay encrypted.

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Why Email Encryption Matters

Okay, so encrypting your email and signing it with a digital signature sounds great. But what’s the real value to your organization? There are three crucial reasons as to why you should install a secure email certificate on your endpoint devices:

Protect Your Organization’s Reputation

It’s commonly said that you only get one chance to make a first impression. The same can frequently be said about an organization’s reputation. A data breach or other cybersecurity issue can result in costly reputational damage for your organization. And once you lose that trust — well, it’s hard to get it back.

It’s a common phishing practice to insert harmful scripts, links, and other sorts of dangerous malware into emails. When cybercriminals get access to any company’s email network, they use authentic emails sent by the authorize employees and corrupt them. The recipient thinks that the email was sent by a trusted organization. As a result, they open the email, click on the link, download the attachment, fill out the form, or share confidential details. That’s how they become the victim of various cybercrimes. 

On the other end, you —as the business organization — have no clue about it, and yet your reputation is getting harmed as a result.

Below is a screenshot of an email that’s been digitally signed by a secure email certificate. The small ribbon icon on the right site is a symbol of the encrypted email. When you click on that ribbon icon, you would see a window assuring the authenticity of the sender and the content of the email.  

secure email certificate.

Secure Sensitive and Confidential Information

Companies frequently send, receive, and store confidential information on emails. These details could be:

  • trade secrets,
  • customer lists,
  • stakeholders’ PII (personally identifiable information),
  • financial details,
  • conversation with customer care department, or
  • Information related pricing, discounts, costs, and profits, etc.

All of these details are virtual goldmines for hackers. They can use these types of information or sell them to your competitors, other cybercriminals, or even the media (if anything is controversial) and make tons of money from your misfortune.

But when you use a secure email certificate, you encrypt the contents and attachments of your emails, which allows you to protect them while they’re in transit or stored on email servers. Plus, a secure email certificate doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg! You can get it for as low rate as $12.95/year from SectigoStore.com!

Compliance with Regulations and Laws

Regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have outlined recommendations and/or requirements about securing sensitive information when sending it via email. 

How Does a Secure Email Certificate Work?

An email signing certificate works on public key infrastructure (PKI).

All the email addresses that use a secure email certificate have a set of asymmetric keys i.e. a public and it’s corresponding private key. As the name suggests, the public key is available to publicly, meaning that anyone can access it. The public key is used to encrypt the email’s contents.

The encrypted email travels via insecure internet and reaches to the recipient’s server.

Now, the role of the private key starts. The private key is safely stored on the email recipient’s server. When the content of the email is encrypted using a public key, only its corresponding private key can decrypt it.

secure email certificate.

The internet is likely always going to be insecure. Without encryption, anyone could potentially get access to your email messages and their contents. But when your emails are encrypted, no one can read or modify them until they reach the intended party.  

Sectigo Secure Email Certificate

There are many certificate authorities (CAs) in the market selling secure email certificate. Among them, Sectigo is the market leader in cybersecurity products such as SSL/TLS certificates, document signing certificates, and email signing certificates. Sectigo is just a newer brand name for the industry titan Sectigo (formerly Comodo CA). SectigoStore.com is the platinum partner of Sectigo. So, if you buy your Sectigo secure email certificate from us, you can get as much as a 20% discount on the retail price!