The next generation of e-mail systems could be just two years away.
A team of researchers from MIT and the University of California Berkeley have developed a prototype that could provide encrypted e-mails for a fraction of the cost of current systems.
“Our system is essentially the equivalent of a mobile phone with a mic in it,” said Alexei M. Shulman, an assistant professor of computer science at MIT.
“We can send messages to other people and get them to encrypt them and forward them, but the message is encrypted.”
In other words, the recipient has to have their e-message sent first to the sender and then decrypted by the sender, so that the recipient doesn’t have to do anything special.
The prototype is designed to be used with Microsoft Outlook, which is already widely used by organizations and individuals worldwide.
The researchers envision it being useful for small-business or even individual organizations.
In fact, Shulmans team has already started using the system to send out e-cards to customers in India.
And the prototype has been used to send e-books, as well as a mobile application to make it easy for people to find information.
The system is being built on top of the Intel® Xeon Phi processor, which has a CPU frequency of 2.6 GHz and 16 GB of RAM.
“The chip is very powerful, but it’s not going to replace all the processors in the market,” Shulmann said.
“If you’re talking about a billion-dollar company like Microsoft, you have to be careful not to over-engineer it.”
The researchers hope to eventually offer the system as a commercial product, but that could take a couple of years.
“There are a lot of things that have to happen before it’s a commercial technology,” Shullmans team said.
The project, which was funded by the Department of Energy, is being developed by the MIT Media Lab, and Shulmmans team is the lead scientist for the system.
They’ve also built a prototype based on a Microsoft product called the Azure ActiveSync® server, which enables a large number of applications to communicate.
“For a long time, the best way to communicate is through a messaging protocol that’s encrypted,” Shunmish said.
So the next generation e-Mail system could be the basis for new types of communication.
“I think that’s the big opportunity,” he said.
E-mail encryption and encryption systems have been around for some time, but they’ve only been around in a limited way.
Currently, there are a handful of e.g. POP3 and SMTP servers, which are designed to work with POP3 servers and send encrypted messages.
There’s also the Microsoft Message Encryption Standard, which allows you to encrypt messages using the Microsoft protocol.
There are also various services that use e-messages to send and receive messages.
E.g., e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon and eBay use e.s-mail to send goods and services.
Ems, an e-payment service, has also been using e-payments to send payments.
“All of these systems are all based on this idea that you send your message to a recipient and then the recipient can then decrypt it and send back a message,” Shushman said.
He also said that e-Payments, which use the Microsoft service, are currently the fastest way to send money.
“When you send money through Ems you get the full security of your message,” he explained.
“And you also get the benefit of the encrypted message and you get a higher level of privacy.”
However, this is only the beginning.
Eons of research have gone into developing systems that use encryption.
Shunms team hopes to create a secure system with just the two elements that have been mentioned above, and the only way to do this is to design and build the system from scratch.
The team also hopes to improve the efficiency of the encryption, which would help the system handle even more data, and reduce the cost.
“By building it from scratch, we can scale it up,” Shunkun said.
This would mean that the team could send out billions of messages in a year, rather than millions of messages a day.
The MIT researchers are also hoping to eventually make this system open source, and will work to build it into the Windows operating system.
The next step, Shunsh, hopes, will be to build the software so that it can be easily ported to other platforms.
“This is not a trivial project,” he noted.
“But this is what we do at MIT, so I think we’ll be successful.”
The team hopes that the prototype will be available in a couple years, and they hope to start shipping the system in the second half of 2018.