How to have email privacy on iOS

So you have spent some time in setting up Open PGP on your Mac. You are happy now you can send secure emails from your desktop or laptop computer. The only trouble is, sometimes you are away from your OS X computer and you receive an email that has been sent to you encrypted. Or maybe you would like to send an encrypted email from your iPad or your iPhone. You’re left wondering whether it is possible and if it is possible, is it going to be annoying to do. In any case, if you have decided it is worthwhile encrypting your emails for your own personal privacy you are going to have to set up something or other. You’ll need to read messages that come in to your iPad or iPhone. The good news is, it’s not too difficult to set up and to use applications with OpenPGP on your iOS devices. Find out more in the Good and Geeky Email Privacy Book.

Another way to deal with encryption on iOS and Mac

It is a good idea to have something set up so you can read incoming emails encrypted with PGP on your iPad and iPhone. It is still going to be necessary even if you have set up encryption certificates that you’ve got from either StartSSL or Commodo. The certificate-based security works well for decrypting those encrypted emails coming into your iOS devices. This system doesn’t work so well if you need to send an encrypted email. It also will be true that some people will want to send you PGP encrypted emails and others will prefer to use S/Mime protected emails. So if you are serious about having email privacy on iOS, I suggest you set up both encryption systems.

Suggested applications for iOS Pretty Good Privacy

I have tried two applications that work well and I keep both of them available on my iPad and iPhone. I use iPGMail and oPenGPG Lite. If you are using oPenGPG Lite, you will need to use a desktop Pretty Good Privacy application to create your key pairs. It is easy to do this and to export from GPG Tools Keychain to create a file, you can import and use on your iPad and iPhone. All you have to do is to select the key and use the context sensitive menu to export. Choose to export the private key as well as the public key and move the .ASC file to your iOS device. It is recommended you use iTunes file sharing if you are sending your secret key. You could send it by Dropbox, although it is not recommended. It would be okay so long as you remembered to securely delete the file after you had imported it into your iOS application. I suggest you choose the route for maximum security and only use a different way of doing it if you have to. If you have already collected public keys from other people, you can move all these keys in one export and import process.

Openpgp lite

iPGMail or oPenGPG Lite

The application iPGMail has the ability to create a PGP key pair and this is useful if you are just working from your iOS devices. You could export the key pair you create in this application to use in GPG tools. The key you create within the application is just as good as a key you create on your desktop computer in terms of security. You do get a few more options in the desktop application. It is easier to send your key to the public keyserver in GPG Tools OSX Keychain. You also can create your revocation certificate at the same time as creating the key, when using GPG Tools on OS X.

Encrypt your emails on iOS with oPenGPG Lite

Even if you haven’t used either of the applications before, you will find it easy to use them to send your secure emails. In oPenGPG Lite you write your text or paste it into the application. You tap on the button to encrypt the text, which it does the encryption quickly. You are then given the option to copy the PGP message to the clipboard and use wherever you like. You can choose to send as email or send as message. You may upload the encryption to dropbox or Store in My Files. When you choose send as email, it opens up an email message with it already populated with the addresses connected to the public keys you have chosen belonging to your recipients. All you have to do is to add a subject title and tap on send.

Ready to send

Encrypt with iPGMail

When you are using iPGMail you choose the Compose icon from the menu bar at the bottom of screen. From there you have all the choices you need to create an encrypted email on iOS. You can sign, encrypt, or sign and encrypt. You choose the signing key and the public key of the recipient, add the subject for the email and you have a space to write your message. If you choose to send an attachment you get access to your photos and also to local files connected to the application. If you choose to sign the email you will be asked to provide the password/pass phrase for the key you are going to use. You will of course, have that password available to you in the application 1Password.

Decrypt an encrypted email in iOS

In the encrypted email, select all the PGP message. Open up the PGP application and both of the apps I have tried recognise the encrypted text on the clipboard. Choose the option to decrypt and hey presto you can see your decrypted message. It is as easy as that!

You can get all the juicy details in a book about using encryption. Get Good and Geeky Email Security and Privacy available now on Amazon. It is an easy book to read and to follow the step-by-step guides to set up on both your Mac and also on iOS.