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Why you should use crypto wallets for your emailsHow Web3 and crypto wallets improve privacy, anonymity, identity portability, and encryption for email and communications.
Our email addresses are our first lines of contact - added to business cards, shared publicly across the internet, and relied upon to store years of important messages and attachments. However, as private messaging (Signal, Session, Telegram, and more) grows increasingly popular and the security landscape changes, email is undergoing major technical and product shifts that could benefit from Web3 and crypto wallets.This blog provides an overview of the many benefits that using a crypto wallet to log into your email provider, or as an email address itself, can provide. In particular, wallets yield excellent benefits for privacy, identity portability, and encryption - which are all must-haves for modern digital communications.
Privacy and anonymityAt the most basic level, a crypto wallet is simply a public private key pair, where your address, such as your Ethereum address, is derived from the cryptographic public key. In the case of an Ethereum address, the public and private key are derived from elliptic curve cryptography on the SECP256K1 curve. An Ethereum address is deterministically dervied from the public key using a hashing algorithm and omitting certain bytes. As a result, crypto wallets are simply derived from mathematical functions - providing complete privacy and a basic layer for identification (using public addresses), attestation (digital signatures), and encryption (using asymmetric cryptography).So, in using a crypto wallet for your communications - such as as an email address - takes you close to the mathematical foundations of cryptography and can yield complete privacy. A wallet you generate can remain completely anonymous and never be shared.
Email aliasing servicesToday, many email services offer anonymous aliases as a benefit that all forward back to your same inbox. This includes the Apple Hide My Email service, DuckDuckGo’s Email Protection forwarding service, SimpleLogin, and more. A crypto wallet can provide many of the same benefits – a completely anonymous, mathematically derived identity that can be used to securely and privately send receive communications, own digital assets, and make attestations proving your identity.
Portable identityCrypto wallets have become one of the most portable identity forms around the web. Wallets, which live inside browsers, mobile apps, and soon operating systems, can be used for sending payments, owning digital assets, and sending secure communications. However, because they are simply a cryptographic public private keypair, they are completely portable and can be moved from one wallet app – like MetaMask to another wallet app – like Rainbow Wallet.Wallets can be used across multiple devices, like mobile browsers, and easily imported or exported. Furthermore as we discussed in the Skiff blog on using the Ethereum naming service with Skiff Mail, a crypto wallet may be associated with a more personal form of identity, like an ENS name, a Twitter account (in the Solana Bonfida case), or more.Unlike Web2 identity, where a single entity or organization controls your entire account, wallets enable owning and not renting identity, even if you want to transfer it across platforms.
EncryptionBecause crypto wallets are simply public private keypairs, they provide a strong basis for an asymmetric crypto system that can be used for encryption and decryption - a necessity for private messaging. In the last year, MetaMask and Brave Wallet released functionality to perform encryption and decryption using an Ethereum wallet (read more in our blog here), and Keplr wallet supports encryption and decryption functionality as well.Compared to PGP, which requires a user to safeguard their private key, share this key across various web services, and use a trustworthy verification method to prove they actually represent a given public key, wallets (particluarly when used with a naming service, like ENS) may be significantly easier to use and safer for consumers.
ConclusionCrypto wallets have now given hundreds of millions of people access to public private keypairs inside of their browsers, mobile apps, and devices. Unlike past attempts to make encryption widespread, such as with Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), wallets have a multitude of use cases and rely on user friendly interfaces.Because wallets hold public private keypairs, they are also portable across different apps or devices - and are not owned or rented from a corporate entity. Given these advantages, we at Skiff encourage trying out Skiff Mail using a crypto wallet to gain access to end-to-end encrypted, privacy-first email, collaboration, file sharing, and more.
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