Notes on email encryption

As a medical practice for neurology and psychiatry, we are aware of the special importance of the confidentiality of your data. We will be happy to explain details of our medical assessments and your findings to you face to face. In addition to this consultation, we can also send you personal documents. You can receive findings, referrals, prescriptions, etc. personally at any time. We can also send you such documents by post. [more on data protection]

Updated 28th January 2021 — Michael Vorwerg

Problematic is sending documents by email. Email is considered to be insecure in principle because it can be read relatively easily by third parties. This is why we cannot, for example, inform you of findings in an unencrypted email, as we feel that the security of your data is not sufficient. For this reason, we would like to offer you secure email encryption.

The free and open softwareGnu Privacy Guard (GnuPG)“ is required for the encryption of emails, which uses the standardised format OpenPGP for encryption. Since this software is ”open source“, i.e. the programming code can be viewed and checked by anyone, the software is considered particularly secure. However, it is necessary that you install and set up GnuPG on your computer. We have compiled a simple introduction with installation instructions on this page.

Links in the Text to Wikipedia.org and the respective software website

Email encryption with GnuPG

The GnuPG software will generate a number of keys on your hard disk containing a private key (which you must not pass on) and a public key (which you should pass on to your contacts and also to us). You will attach further public keys of recipients of your encrypted emails (e.g. ours) to this key ring.

Your private key is necessary to decrypt your emails. It is the only way to open emails that are encrypted for you. Therefore, you are not allowed to pass it on. Your private key is protected by a password.

Your public key is used to encrypt emails sent to you. Therefore we need this key. For the same reason, you also need our public key to communicate with us, which encrypts your email to us.

You can find our public key here: https://www.neuropraxis-neukoelln.de/neuropraxis.asc. You need this key to encrypt emails to us. Therefore, you must attach it to your key ring. How to do this (it's easy) is explained below.

Our key has the fingerprint 8AC9 A796 A5E0 6052 0DD5 67EF 88DD DB8D 59E5 FD23.

Installation under Microsoft Windows

For encrypted communication under Microsoft Windows you need an email programme (e.g. Outlook or Thunderbird). This should be fully configured, i.e. it should be able to receive and send emails. The Windows programme ”Mail“ is not suitable for sending encrypted emails and should therefore not be used to contact us. The encryption itself is done by the GnuPG software, which works in the background. After installation, you will have very little to do with GnuPG, as it works automatically through add-ons/plug-ins in the email programmes, even without your intervention. Installation of the free software GPG4Win is needed, regardless of whether you use Outlook or Thunderbird.

To encrypt emails with Outlook you need additional software, as this function is not included. GPG4Win is suitable for this task. This free software package consists of several programmes that are necessary for encryption and integration into your email programme.

Step 1

Install the programme GPG4Win. To do this please go to the website https://www.gpg4win.org and download the installation programme. Open it and follow the instructions.

Step 2

Create a key pair. To do this, open the ”Kleopatra“ programme that was installed with GPG4Win. Please use a secure password (at least 8 characters including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters). Sometimes a ”passphrase“ is expected, which is synonymous with a password.

Step 3

Download our public key https://www.neuropraxis-neukoelln.de/neuropraxis.asc. You can attach our key to your key ring by double-clicking on the key or by selecting ”Import“ in Kleopatra.

Step 4

Please export your public key and send it to us in an email. Please make sure that the email is sent signed and encrypted. Please do not send us your private key. You should keep it safely on your computer.

Done!

Now you can communicate with us securely using encrypted email. Please note that all confidential email traffic with our practice must be encrypted. This includes private data, findings, etc. which require special protection. With your written permission, we can send you unencrypted laboratory values if necessary. Other documents will only be sent to you via email in encrypted form. If you do not provide encryption, we will not send them to you by email. Alternatively, you are welcome to have findings sent to you by post or to collect them from us personally.

The email programme Thunderbird is a free and open software of the Mozilla Foundation, which is developed by many people in their spare time (The browser Firefox is also by Mozilla). Since this software is ”open source“, i.e. the programming code of Thunderbird can be viewed and checked by anyone, the software is considered to be particularly secure. Nevertheless, you need other software to encrypt your emails, as this function is not included in Thunderbird itself.

Step 1

Install the Thunderbird email programme. To do this, please go to https://www.thunderbird.net/en-GB/ and download the installation programme. Open it and follow the instructions. Then set up Thunderbird so that it can receive and send emails.

Step 2

Install Enigmail via the addon manager of Thunderbird.

Step 3

Setting up Enigmail in Thunderbird is easy as you are guided through a ”setup wizard“. If the encryption programme GnuPG has not yet been installed, the setup wizard will offer this. The wizard can also be used to create a key pair. Please use a secure password (at least 8 characters including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters). Sometimes a ”passphrase“ is also expected, which is synonymous with a password.

Step 4

Download our public key https://www.neuropraxis-neukoelln.de/neuropraxis.asc. By double-clicking the key or by selecting in the menu ”Enigmail | Key Management... | File | Import...“ you can attach our key to your key ring.

Step 5

Please export your public key and send it to us in an email. Please make sure that the email is sent signed and encrypted. Please do not send us your private key. You should keep it safely on your computer.

Done!

Now you can communicate with us securely using encrypted email. Please note that all confidential email traffic with our practice must be encrypted. This includes private data, findings, etc. which require special protection. With your written permission, we can send you unencrypted laboratory values if necessary. Other documents will only be sent to you via email in encrypted form. If you do not provide encryption, we will not send them to you by email. Alternatively, you are welcome to have findings sent to you by post or to collect them from us personally.

Installation under Apple MacOS

For encrypted communication under MacOS you need an email programme (e.g. Apple Mail or Thunderbird). This should be fully configured, i.e. it should be able to receive and send emails. The encryption itself is carried out by the GnuPG software, which works in the background. After installation you will have little to do with GnuPG, as it works automatically through add-ons/plug-ins in the email programmes without your intervention. Under MacOS, GnuPG is most easily installed together with the software package GPGTools. Part of this package is the programme GPG Mail, which is only necessary to integrate GnuPG into Apple Mail. GPG Mail may incur costs. Please refer to the software's website https://gpgtools.org for more information.

To encrypt with Apple Mail you need additional software as the encryption function is not included. Under MacOS the GPGTools software package is suitable for this purpose (costs may be incurred for the ”GPG Mail“ programme contained in it).

Step 1

Install the GPGTools software. To do this, go to https://gpgtools.org, download the installation programme, open it and follow the installation instructions.

Step 2

Open the ”GPG Keychain“ programme installed with GPGTools. This will manage your keys and with this application you will create your key pair. To do this, click on “New” in the main window on the left and follow the instructions. Please use a secure password (at least 8 characters including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters). Sometimes a ”passphrase“ is expected, which is synonymous with a password.

Step 3

Download our public key https://www.neuropraxis-neukoelln.de/neuropraxis.asc. By double-clicking the key or by selecting ”Import“ in GPG Keychain you can attach our key to your keychain.

Step 4

Please export your public key and send it to us in an email. Please make sure that the email is sent signed and encrypted. Please do not send us your private key. You should keep it safely on your computer.

Done!

Now you can communicate with us securely using encrypted email. Please note that all confidential email traffic with our practice must be encrypted. This includes private data, findings, etc. which require special protection. With your written permission, we can send you unencrypted laboratory values if necessary. Other documents will only be sent to you via email in encrypted form. If you do not provide encryption, we will not send them to you by email. Alternatively, you are welcome to have findings sent to you by post or to collect them from us personally.

The email programme Thunderbird is a free and open software of the Mozilla Foundation, which is developed by many people in their spare time (The browser Firefox is also by Mozilla). Since this software is ”open source“, i.e. the programming code of Thunderbird can be viewed and checked by anyone, the software is considered to be particularly secure. Nevertheless, you need other software to encrypt your emails, as this function is not included in Thunderbird itself.

Step 1

Install the Thunderbird email programme. To do this, please go to https://www.thunderbird.net/en-GB/ and download the installation programme. Open it and follow the instructions. Then set up Thunderbird so that it can receive and send emails.

Step 2

Install Enigmail via the addon manager of Thunderbird.

Step 3

Install the software GPGTools (please note that the possibly chargeable programme ”GPG Mail“ is not necessary for Thunderbird). Go to https://gpgtools.org, download the installation programme, open it and follow the installation instructions. During the installation, make sure to click on ”Customise“ at the bottom left-hand corner of the ”Installation Type“ item and deselect the ”GPG Mail“ programme (to avoid installing it).

Step 4

Create a key pair. In the Thunderbird programme menu, click ”OpenPGP“ to find the ”OpenPGP Wizard“. Follow the instructions of the wizard. Please use a secure password (at least 8 characters including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters). Sometimes a ”passphrase“ is expected, which is synonymous with a password.

Step 5

Download our public key https://www.neuropraxis-neukoelln.de/neuropraxis.asc. By double-clicking the key or by selecting in the menu ”OpenPGP | Key Management...“ you can attach our key to your key ring.

Step 6

Please export your public key and send it to us in an email. Please make sure that the email is sent signed and encrypted. Please do not send us your private key. You should keep it safely on your computer.

Done!

Now you can communicate with us securely using encrypted email. Please note that all confidential email traffic with our practice must be encrypted. This includes private data, findings, etc. which require special protection. With your written permission, we can send you unencrypted laboratory values if necessary. Other documents will only be sent to you via email in encrypted form. If you do not provide encryption, we will not send them to you by email. Alternatively, you are welcome to have findings sent to you by post or to collect them from us personally.