The Stack Archive

Deutsche Telekom releases encryption program

Fri 1 Jul 2016

Telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom has announced the release of a new program, designed to provide easy encryption of emails even for technical novices. The program, called ‘Volksverschlüsselung’, or ‘people’s encryption’, uses DT’s infrastructure and high-security data centres to transfer encrypted data from the sender to the recipient over email.

Traditional end-to-end encryption allows for the secure transmission of email from sender to recipient, because the data is locked with an encryption key at the sender’s end, and cannot be unlocked without the recipient’s decryption key. The Volksverschlüsselung takes this one step further, requiring an in-person registration for both sender and recipient to receive a personal key, which is used to verify sender and recipient identity.

The program was created by a partnership between DT and the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology (SIT). The intent is to increase the usage and popularity of email encryption by creating a program that is easy to install and to use, and that is available to anyone.

Using the infrastructure and secure data centres already in the Deutsche Telekom system, as well as the easily recognized DT brand, is hoped to make the use of Volksverschlüsselung more widespread. While the software is currently available for download online, DT plans to offer the program to customers at its German storefronts in the future.

Thomas Kremer, a board member for DT, said, “Burying your head in the sand and thinking ‘no-one is interested in my emails anyway’ makes users easy prey. We want people to take responsibility for their digital communications.” He added, “Our priority is to give Volksverschlüsselung a wide footing and have as many users as possible.”

A more widespread adoption of encryption programs will help users avoid the situation where they want to send an encrypted message, but the intended recipient does not have the appropriate decryption software. “There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to use encrypted communication, but finding no recipients to do so,” Kremer said. Michael Waidner, head of Fraunhofer SIT, added that the program “allows people to improve their digital autonomy and protect themselves against unwanted mass surveillance.”

While cybercrime is on the rise, studies have shown that an estimated 75% of office workers upload confidential work files to unencrypted personal email or cloud accounts. That number rises to 87% for senior managers. Widespread adoption of email encryption could be another way for companies to protect their, and their client’s, personal information.


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