Emailing, the Snowden way

3 min readAug 11, 2021

As ordinary citizens, the recent Pegasus issue raises us a question as well. Could there be a giant spyware blanket snooping on us too? Noting what posts we like, tweet, and share and flagging us in their system (as anti B.ஜெ.P ?) could have devastating outcomes. So there’s a pressing need to review our communication.

Your device snooping on yourself
You sure your devices are safe?

Most of our online communication with our friends and family are encrypted, but often we don’t hold the keys to those encryptions. But still, we are safe, right? Pegasus says No. So let’s take back control; let us have our own keys to lock our messages before sending them. To be sure, that is.

Pretty Good Privacy

There is this fascinating piece of tech called PGP which stands for Pretty Good Privacy (yes, that’s really the expansion). What PGP does is, it creates a pair of keys (a long-phrase of alphanumeric characters) for you. A private key and a public key, which sort of work complimentarily. As they are aptly named, you keep your private key confidential and safe with yourself and make your public key just completely public. Anyone who needs to communicate something privately with you can encrypt their message with your public key, which is openly available. And only you with your private key can decrypt the message. Hackerman!. You can also send them back a message with their public key.

working of PGP keys in a sketch
Keeping private keys private is essential though

Most end-to-end-Encrypted messaging services work similar to this, but the encryption and decryption are fast enough to have real-time conversations. PGP is simple to use and highly secure that you should really try it to send your friend an encrypted message. You can then be sure that if the world falls into pandemonium with no WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, etc., you are tech-savvy enough to have encrypted conversations still. So check out tools like GPG, which is a free implementation of PGP. You can encrypt your message with this and send the encrypted message over the internet. Now we can relax and chill, because our dear friend Mark or anyone else for that matter can’t snoop on us, if they did they get only a bunch of random characters (the message after encryption).

For OG GMAIL users

Tools like FlowCrypt make it simple enough to just add a browser extension and make your mail a click away from encryption (after a teeny bit of set-up of course)

If you’re intrigued and want to try PGP, here’s my public key :)