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Use Free Email Certificates to Protect Your Email

written by: Steve Mallard•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 2/3/2012

Want to ensure your email is secure? Most modern email clients and many instant messenger programs have the capability to guarantee communication is private. With the ability to add digital signatures which keeps the email or conversation private these programs have built in tools to do just that.

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    Email

    With email being one of the primary ways to communicate today; spam, viruses, identity theft and other malicious ways to use this tool against the user is a great concern to almost all users. Because email is not inherently secure, anyone can adjust email programs and send spam or anything else in someone else's name.

    The average home user isn't trained in receiving email and determining the sender's IP address. Users typically 'trust' emails they feel are safe or legitimate. Unfortunately this trust can yield results that can have a direct affect on someone's personal or work life. The trusted email can also contain data that could damage your computer.

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    Why Use Certificates?

    Certificates - also known as digital IDs - allow for the guarantee of communications. What guarantee? Most modern email clients and many instant messenger programs have the capability to guarantee communication is private. With the ability to add digital signatures which keeps the email or conversation private these programs have built in tools to do just that. Users must install a certificate to provide the encryption needed to make sure the information can't be seen by unwanted individuals.

    In order to use S/MIME (encryption and guarantee), home users or business owners must obtain and install a certificate into their applications to ensure privacy. In order to obtain a certificate, home users and business can request for free or purchase a certificate for their email account. These certificates are generally downloaded or requested from a public CA (certificate authority).

    Personal certificates for home users (any individual) verifies the owner of the certificate by binding the owner to their email address. With businesses, the certificates are usually obtained through a certificate authority and are purchased by the company for a fee for a period of time.

    Certificates basically ensure you know who the sender is, ensure encryption (privacy) and prevent tampering.

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    Where do you get Certificates?

    Several companies will provide you with a free certificate, including:

    Thawte Free Email Certificates Link

    Comodo Free Certificates Link

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    Microsoft Outlook

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    How to install a Certificate in Outlook

    All Certificate sites will request information from you. This information will include information such as your name and email address. After requesting the information, you will be given a link to pick up your certificate and instructions on how to install the certificate. This initial installation will place the certificate with other certificates that are installed on your computer.

    In Microsoft Outlook, the final installation of your certificate is simple. Choose "Tools" in the Outlook Menu Area. Select "Trust Center". Next choose the "Email Security" Option. This will allow you to import and attach the certificate as per your certificate supplier.

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    Conclusion

    With email certificates free now, users should review sites and use these to protect information being sent with emails. This encryption and privacy along with the guarantee of the writer of the email keeps the trust users want in emails.