Email Encryption and Blocking

What's Encryption?

Encryption is when data is scrambled or encoded, so it can’t be accessed or read until it’s decrypted. While it can be used in many IT scenarios, we will focus on Microsoft email encryption.

Email Encryption Simplified:

Encryption process with an email written, encryption aplied, encrypted message sent and the message safety delievered and decrypted.

Are my LWTech Emails Encrypted?

Sometimes. Your LWTech emails will be automatically encrypted if they contain Personal Identifiable Information, also known as PII.

Examples of Personal Identifiable Information (PII)

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver’s license or state ID number
  • Passport number
  • Alien registration number
  • Financial account number
  • Student/Employee ID
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Citizenship or immigration status
  • Medical Information
  • Racial / Ethnic identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Account passwords
  • Last 4 digits of SSN
  • Date of birth
  • Criminal history
  • Religious Affiliation

How do I Read an Encrypted Email?

If it’s from someone at LWTech (within the organization), you can read and reply to encrypted messages the same way you do with unencrypted messages.  You may notice a lock at the top of the message letting you know that the email was encrypted. If a message is encrypted, the recipient will not be able to copy/cut/paste, print, snip it, or forward the message.

Internal encrypted email with a lock alert at the top stating "This message is encrypted."

What if I'm Sending an Email to Someone Outside of LWTech?

First, extra caution should be taken when sending PII to a recipient external to the College email system.

Manual Encryption

To protect PII sent via email to external recipients, you can manually encrypt the email before you send it. To do this in Outlook, select the Options tab at the top followed by the Permission/Lock drop-down. Select the preferred encryption permission.

The Options tab in Outlook with a lock icon available for selection with the options to Encrypt or Do Not Forward

Automatic Encryption

If an outgoing email hits our IT rules for encryption, it will be automatically encrypted. The outside recipient will receive an email with directions on how to access the encrypted email.

Directions to Open an Encrypted Message

Note: Directions may vary depending on the recipients' email provider. 

  1. In this Gmail example, the recipient would select the Read the message.
    Gmail email with Read the message button
  2. Next, they will need to select Sign in with Google to authenticate by entering their account information OR select Sign in with a One-time passcode to enter a temporary passcode.
    Sign in with Google or a One-time passcode option
    1. If the recipient decides to authenticate by signing into their account, they will need to select their account, enter a username/password, and complete any additional authentication their provider requires.
      Choose an account to sign in with
    2. If they choose to authenticate using a one-time passcode, they will need to locate the one-time passcode in their email inbox. Then enter the passcode in the box and select Continue.
      One time passcode example

      Enter one time passcode box and continue button
  3. In a new tab, the recipient can read the email, open any attachments, or reply. The email will contain an alert message letting the recipient know that the email is encrypted. The recipient will not be able to copy/cut/paste, print, snip it, or forward the message.
    Example of an encrypted email where the recipient can read, open any attachments, or reply.

Why do my Emails Keep Getting Blocked?

To help keep our network secure, ITS has set up various “rules” to help filter out both internal and external emails that might be harmful. This leads to emails being blocked, deleted, or quarantined. Our provider, Barracuda, uses different tools for filtering out Spam such as Deny Listing, IP blocking, Geographical blocking, Authentication from the sender’s mail server, and Spam scoring.

Phew, I’m glad IT is on it! But how do I get my email (or someone else's email) to stop being blocked when they are legitimate?

Please submit an ITS Help Desk ticket. Our staff will review the history of why the email is being blocked and can then allow and redeliver the email(s).

In the future can I do anything to reduce the chance of my emails being blocked or encrypted?

When writing an email, try to remove any Personal Identifiable Information (PII). Review the examples of PII listed earlier. This will reduce your chances of having your email blocked or encrypted. Also, try to find other ways to send PII than by email.