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Exchanging public keys with S/MIME

Just read over your nice, brief tip regarding using S/MIME. One question: In Notes if you wanted someone with a Notes client who may be outside of your organization to read encrypted messages from you, you had to send them a copy of your public key. Does the same go for S/MIME? If not, how does this ensure privacy for a message? If you accidently send an encrypted message to the wrong user, they would still be able to open it.

Thanks! I'm glad you liked my tip about S/MIME.

When you sign a message with your private key, you are doing so to authenticate the message, not to keep it secret. The receiver then decrypts the message with your public key, which proves that you created the message.

To make a message secret, you encrypt it with the receiver's public key. Then, only that receiver can decrypt it (with their private key).

Outlook Express helps a bit with exchanging public keys, by including your public key whenever you send a signed message to someone.

This was first published in October 2001

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