How to Encrypt Messages in Outlook 2013

When you encrypt a message in Outlook 2013, your system scrambles the contents of your outgoing message so that only your intended recipient can read your message. Back in the days of radio, millions of children loved to exchange “secret” messages that they encoded with Little Orphan Annie’s Secret Decoder Ring. Outlook does something similar, using a feature called Encryption.

Unfortunately, you don’t get a colorful plastic ring with Outlook. On the other hand, you don’t have to save your box tops to get one — the decoder is built right into Outlook.

Before you can send someone an encrypted message using Outlook’s Encryption feature, these criteria have to be met:

  • Both you and the person to whom you’re sending your encrypted message need to have a digital certificate.

  • Your intended recipient needs to have sent you at least one message with a digital signature. That way Outlook recognizes that person as someone you can trust. Outlook can be pretty suspicious; even your mother can’t send you an encrypted message unless you’ve sent her your digital signature first.

To send an encrypted message to someone who meets all the requirements, follow these steps:

  1. While creating a message, click the Options tab at the top of the message screen.

    The Options Ribbon appears.

  2. Click the arrow beside More Options.

    The Properties dialog box appears.

  3. Click the Security Settings button.

    The Security Properties dialog box appears.

  4. Select the Encrypt Message Contents and Attachments check box.

  5. Click OK.

    The Signing Data with Your Private Exchange Key dialog box appears.

  6. Click Close.

    Your message is encrypted.

When you get an encrypted message, the contents of the message don’t appear in the Reading pane; you have to double-click the message to open it.

In fact, if you work in a big organization, your network may deliver the message to you as an attachment to a serious-sounding message warning you that encrypted messages can’t be scanned for viruses.

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