Setting Up Email Encryption and Signing with Mozilla Thunderbird 3.1

There are many reasons why you'd want to setup secure email communications (aka: encryption), especially given recent freedom of speech, privacy, and censorship issues in Western cultures.  It is useful and now thanks to Mozilla Thunderbird, it's also very easy to configure and use.


  • Mozilla Firefox 3.6 or later
  • Mozilla Thunderbird 3.1 or later
  • An IMAP/POP3 & SMTP email account
  • A friend with the same setup (for testing)

Note: This approach avoids the need to maintain your own certificate store.

Get a Free s/MIME Certificate

  1. You can get a free email encryption certificate from InstantSSL, Using Mozilla Firefox, go to and follow the on screen directions.  Each person that wants email encryption needs to get their own certificate.
  2. InstantSSL sends you an email with a link to retrieve the certificate, make sure you open that link using Firefox.
  3. Firefox will download and store the certificate.

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