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Attingo Datenrettung
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Information about Email, Communication, and Messengers

The past ten years have seen a major shift to encrypted communication. The spark that made people rethink their messaging habits were the Snowden documents. Technical minded people have used encryption for decades, but the tools had to deal with a lot of deficiencies back then. Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) was one of the first solutions in 1991. A lot has changed, and people are using different platforms. Despite the disadvantages of PGP, GnuPG (the Free Software counterpart), and S/MIME (the hierarchical and centralised trust variant based on certificates) we continue to use GnuPG. It is an option for communication partners that have already created such an configuration.

Let's take a look at the message formats and protocols itself. Email is still going strong. The reason is that email is vendor-neutral. You can argue that most people either use GMail or Office 365, but you can still set-up your own email infrastructure for your domain (regardless if self-hosted or not). Email is decentralised. The protocols involved carry a lot of baggage, but the email cannot be bought by a billionaire and shut down. You also don't need blue buttons to tell others that you are real. Furthermore, email corresponds to a physical letter. Basically it is a document, and you can attach other documents. There is a lot of support in applications for handling, creating, reading, and importing email. You can archive correspondence, if you use the right software (usually self-hosted, because most cloud platforms don't feel well with 100+ GB of email messages; our solutions based on free software can handle this). Most importantly: Emails are not messages!

A lot of people have switched to messengers such as Signal or Threema. The problem is that the messages used in messengers are short-term communications. We regularly delete these messages (sometimes with an automated timer, retention period is a few months at maximum). There are more big differences:

  • Messengers cannot be attached to a domain or subdomain.
  • Messengers do not support multiple mailboxes per recipient (because they are not attached to a domain).
  • While messengers may have desktop clients, none of these clients come close to the usage of our main two email clients (no short-cuts, no filters, no scoring, no folders, …).
Messengers have their advantages for short term information (similar to the Short Message/Messaging Service or SMS protocol) and for voice calls. Sending images is also nice, but again only for short term storage. Anything more complicated doesn't work with messengers. Messengers are encrypted Post-it® notes. Emails are letters.