Proton Mail, the leading privacy-focused email service, is making its first foray into blockchain technology with Key Transparency, which will enable allow users to verify email addresses. From a report: In an interview with Fortune, CEO and founder Andy Yen made it clear that while the new feature uses blockchain, the key technology behind cryptography, Key Transparency is not “a sketchy cryptocurrency” tied to a “trust scam.” exit “. A student of cryptography, Yen added that the new feature is “blockchain in a very pure form” and allows the platform to solve the thorny problem of ensuring that each email address actually belongs to the person who claims it.
Proton Mail uses end-to-end encryption, a form of secure communication that ensures that only the intended recipient can read the information. Senders encrypt an email using their recipient’s public key (a long string of letters and numbers) which the recipient can then decrypt with their own private key. The problem, according to Yen, is ensuring that the public key actually belongs to the intended recipient. “Maybe it’s the NSA that created a fake public key linked to you, and I’m somehow being tricked into encrypting data with that public key,” he told Fortune. In the security field, this tactic is known as a “man-in-the-middle attack,” like having a postal worker open your bank statement to get your Social Security number, then close the envelope.
Blockchains are an immutable ledger, meaning that the data initially entered cannot be changed. Yen realized that putting users’ public keys on a blockchain would create a record ensuring that those keys actually belonged to them – and would be referenced whenever other users sent emails. “For verification to be reliable, it must be public and unchanged,” Yen said.