Nylas N1 and Keybase basically make PGP encrypted email idiot-proof…
I choose the term idiot-proof carefully because when it comes to security, encryption, PGP and privacy — I pretty much place myself squarely in the idiot camp. Earlier this year, I’d read No Place to Hide and at the introduction of PGP-encryption for emails, I thought to myself… “that seems cool and important and I should set that up.” And, similarly to the author Glenn Greenwald, I put that shit off like starting the project would give me the plague. Setting up PGP and decrypting and encrypting emails seemed like too much of a pain in the ass. Actually, it probably WAS too much of a pain in the ass — seemed had little to do with it.
Nylas N1 is an email client with a pleasant, clean UI that was recommended by the team at FounderTherapy. They have some great extensions and it’s pretty comfortable to use, and overall I generally recommend it to anyone having woes with their current email UI. Frankly, I set it up for my work inbox on one machine and that’s the only instance across five or six devices I used Nylas N1 at all, and I was fine with that. I thought that was the farthest Nylas and I would go.
Keybase, on the other hand, makes actually generating your PGP key a painless process in both a web-UI and a locally stored downloadable program. They validate your public key against your public social profiles — including Github, Coinbase, Reddit and HackerNews — among others. Keybase alone makes actually using PGP much easier, but I wouldn’t have known about them at all if not for Nylas.
Earlier this week, Nylas announced native-PGP support in the Nylas N1 email client and a partnership for free, immediate access to Keybase — which otherwise has a waiting list of 25,000 or-so folk. This partnership takes the basic set-up and use of the bare minimum of pieces necessary to use PGP from a pain-in-the-ass to painless. I was up-and-running in less than 15 minutes, with the only lingering project being getting my public key up and visible on my own website at codymusser.com. Moreover, Nylas N1 as a PGP-client has an experience and design that is markedly better than any other option — sorry Thunderbird fanboys, I’ve never liked it.
The technology that we should be using in the post-Snowden era has been available to us for years, and the fact that we don’t use it is a sad fault of the limits of our patience and attention span. In that alone I want to give solid praise to Nylas and Keybase for making a convert out of at least one person who was waiting for someone to commit to an experience that outweighed my own laziness. You guys did it. You made it easy.
(I’m involved with neither Nylas or Keybase and wasn’t asked or implored to write this recommendation by anyone. I did it because I really think these guys did a great job and deserve the props.)