enzevalos is a BMBF funded project that investigates ease of use for end-to-end encryption of electronic mail. The project partners are Wincor-Nixdorf International GmbH, Technische Universität Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, Bitcoin Deutschland AG, Open-Xchange AG, Peering GmbH (ECIX) and Mynigma. The project started in January, 2016, and runs until December 2017.
With the success and popularity of the Internet, electronic mail (e-mail) has become widespread. Today, e-mail is a cornerstone of personal and business communication. Standards for encrypted e-mail have existed for a long time and are widely supported in mail programs. Yet, only a fraction of the population use encryption to protect their e-mail even though there is a growing awareness of wholesale surveillance. A recurring explanation for this phenomenon is that users are reluctant to familiarize themselves with encryption features because they are hard to use. At the same time, major software vendors put little effort into improving the usability of encryption features.
The goal of the enzevalos project is to investigate means to render electronic mail encryption easy to use by most e-mail users. Key to our approach is the analysis of trade-offs between security and usability and the investigation of appropriate security functions and corresponding interaction techniques. Particular attention will be given to exchanging keys, mail account setup and intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to discover and explore encryption features. A major tool we will use in the project are user-driven design processes and user studies, both in the laboratory and in the field. Since mobile devices are outpacing other means to access the Internet we will focus on smartphone platforms in this project.
enzevalos is meant to generate effective security and interaction concepts that will be documented and publicized so that vendors of mail programs and start-ups can adapt them to their software solutions. Whenever possible we will publicize proofs of concepts suitable to highlight with high fidelity how the concepts can be reduced to practice. For selected aspects of our mechanism design we will pursue international standardization, so that they may be used internationally and interoperably.