Introduction To Securing E-mail with Digital Certificates

Digital certificates can be used to digitally sign and encrypt e-mails. When combined with e-mail clients that support S/MIME, such as Thunderbird, digital certificates provide a simple way of mitigating the most common threats to e-mail communication.

For in-depth information about the security risks to e-mail and how these risks are mitigated with digital certificates refer to the ILS document Securing E-mail With Digital Signatures.

This helpsheet will step you through the process of requesting, installing and configuring your S/MIME certificate.

NOTE: These instructions are based on Firefox 2.x or greater and Thunderbird 2.x and greater. If you are running older versions you are encouraged to upgrade prior to attempting this process.

Process Overview:

  1. Read through the entire process before beginning
  2. Request your S/MIME certificate
    • Request the certificate
    • Install it into Firefox
    • Export it from Firefox
  3. Install your S/MIME certificate into Thunderbird
  4. Configure Thunderbird to use your new S/MIME certificate