Think your email’s private?

Think again

Sending an email message is like sending a postcard, says scientist Andy Yen in this thought-provoking talk: Anyone can read it. Yet encryption, the technology that protects the privacy of email communication, does exist. It’s just that until now it has been difficult to install and a hassle to use. Showing a demo of an email program he designed with colleagues at CERN, Yen argues that encryption can be made simple to the point of becoming the default option, providing true email privacy to all.

Andy Yen is building an encrypted email program that lets everyone benefit from private communication.

Why you should listen
Andy Yen is a scientist at CERN. With two colleagues, Wei Sun and Jason Stockman, he co-founded ProtonMail, an encrypted email startup based in Geneva, Switzerland, that seeks to make secure email accessible. The group aims to advance internet security and protect online privacy rights by making it possible for everyone to incorporate encryption into their everyday communication.

A physicist and economist by training, since 2010 Andy has been part of the ATLAS experiment at CERN, where his research focus has been on searches for supersymmetric particles. He is translating his experience in large-scale computing to build the infrastructure that is used to run ProtonMail.

What others say
“It’s clear that we are under observation by both governments and corporations, and we can’t just sit on the sidelines — privacy is too important for democracy. We are computer scientists, we can do something, so we decided to try.” — Andy Yen