Tuesday, July 06, 2004

All Hot and Bothered Over Privacy

I've said it before and I'll say it again: all the fuss being made about email privacy is just so much hot air. Who cares if Google, an ISP or some other entity has legal permission to read one's email? Do most people realize that email messages are actually sent in plaintext over the wire, with no obfuscation whatsoever? In fact, one doesn't even need an email client to send a message - just use telnet to contact port 25 of an SMTP server, type in the right commands, and you're all set, that's how straightforward and insecure the protocol actually is.

Rather than wasting time engaging in the legal equivalent of arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, those who are concerned about their privacy would be better off using the freely available encryption tools that are to be found online: then even storing one's messages in plain sight for all to see wouldn't be an issue. If there's any doubt whatsoever on this score, I hereby challenge any sceptics out there to decipher the following message:

-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.2.4 (MingW32) - GPGshell v3.10
Comment: My Public Key is at the following URL:
Comment: http://www.alapite.net/pgp/AbiolaLapite.txt
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=vFhM
-----END PGP MESSAGE-----
Hopefully someone will succeed in cracking it before I'm retired ...