End-to-end technology was not accessible to common users in the past. However, the recent technological advances have made end-to-end encryption easier to use and access. This article will introduce what end-to-end encryption is and what advantages it has compared to common encryption.
What is end-to-end encryption?
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a communication method that only allows the actual senders and recipients access and read messages. It prevents potential eavesdroppers (including email providers, internet providers, etc.) from accessing the encryption keys needed to decrypt the conversation. Therefore, any third parties can not read or secretly modify the messages.
End-to-end encryption can prevent anyone in the middle from reading private communications by encrypting messages at both ends of the conversation. After a sender encrypts a message, there is no way for a third party to decrypt the message, no matter whether the message is in transit or at rest. Even the end-to-end encrypted email service provider cannot decrypt the encrypted data. Only the intended recipient can decrypt and read the encrypted message.
How does end-to-end encryption work?
Email encryption relies on public-key cryptography or PKI, a combination of private and public keys.
Anyone can use a public key to encrypt a message in the PKI model, but only the authorized party can use the private key to decrypt the message into a readable format.
Advantages of end-to-end encryption
Compared with the standard encryption used by most services, end-to-end encryption has several advantages:
End-to-end encryption can protect your data in the event of a cyber attack. It means fewer people can access your encrypted data. Even if hackers compromise the server where your data is stored, they will not be able to decrypt or modify your data because they do not have the decryption key.
End-to-end encryption keeps your data private. If you use Gmail, all your emails are accessible by Google. And Google can save your email even if you delete them. However, end-to-end encryption allows you to control who reads your messages. It indeed protects your privacy better.
Governments have increased requirements for personal data protection. For example, GDPR has established strict rules for protecting personal data and imposes severe penalties on violations. End-to-end encryption can help companies (data controllers) to meet strict regulations by encrypting their data.
End-to-end encryption is the technological pillar of a more private and secure internet.