Cracking The Code: Just How Does Encrypted Email Work?
Micah Lee, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who recently wrote a document for the Freedom of the Press Foundation about the encryption process, explains it for Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Don Gonyea. Most of us use encryption in one form or another every day, Lee says, even if we don't realize it. For example, the little padlock symbol on your Internet browser is a version of encryption.
"You know, let's say you're paying a bill at a coffee shop or on some other open wireless network — it means that other people on that same network won't be able to spy on you," Lee says.