External Users Guide to Opening an Encrypted Email and Attachment

At SVSU, we prioritize security. One of the ways we demonstrate this is to make sure our organization and user's data does not fall into the wrong hands. We have turned on automatic email and attachment encryption for messages that contain personally identifiable information as well as financial data.

This Knowledge Article contains instructions for users, outside of the SVSU domain, who need to read an encrypted email or attachment sent by our users.

When encryption is applied to a message being sent outside of SVSU:

  • the email cannot be forwarded
  • only specified users have access to read or edit attached files

Encryption may have been applied in the following combinations.  Click each link to jump to instructions on how to decrypt:

  1. The body of the message only
  2. The attachment only
  3. Both the body of the message and the attachment

Microsoft Purview is used for email and file encryption for Microsoft Office files as well as PDF files.

A note about attachments using Adobe Password Protection.

If you have received a file using Adobe Password Protection, download the file, open it into Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader and enter the password that the sender provided to you.  They should have contacted you in person or on the phone to provide the password, you will not find it in the email message.

Encrypted Email Message

Depending on your email client, the way an encrypted message is displayed may vary slightly from the steps provided in this knowledge article, but the overall steps should be the same.  To read an encrypted email, use the recommended, One-Time Passcode to view the message.  This example is using gmail.

  1. When you receive an encrypted email message, the message contents will not be displayed by opening the message as usual.
    • You will see a note saying that someone @ SVSU has sent you a protected message. 
    • You may even see a note that the message seems dangerous.  This is because the message is encrypted and your email service cannot scan the message for SPAM or virus contents.
    • The encrypted email may appear as an attachment of the file type .rpmsg .

      The encrypted email may appear as an attachment of the file type .rpmsg .
  2. Click the Read the message button.
  3. Choose to Sign in with the credentials to which the message was sent, again, or Sign in with a One-time passcode.
    • the One-time passcode method is well tested and preferred.

  4. When selecting Sign in with a One-time passcode, the screen will change, prompting you to enter the passcode.  View unread messages in your email mailbox to locate your one-time passcode.

  5. Copy the one-time passcode that was sent from Microsoft Office 365. Note that it expires 15 minutes after it was requested.

  6. Paste the passcode into the field.
  7. Click Continue.

  8. The message is now decrypted and able to be read.  In gmail, the message opens into a new tab with a title of Encrypted Message.


Both Message and Attachment are Encrypted

  1. Follow all of the above steps to decrypte the Email message.
  2. If the encrypted Email contained an attachment, the attachment can now be accessed. The encryption method used at SVSU prevents forwarding of the message as well as the attachment.

Encrypted Attachment Only

When an email is not encrypted, but the attachment is, the recipient's address must be set up as a Microsoft account.
Note that gmail and other "brand" recipient addresses can be set up with Microsoft.  Create a free Microsoft account at this Microsoft page.

  1. When you receive an email that contains an encrypted attachment, your email system will likely display a warning message.  Always follow your institution's Phishing guidlines if you recieve attachments unexpectedly or from senders you don't know.

  2. Previewing an encrypted file is not an option. Download the encrypted file.

  3. Find the downloaded file and double-click on it.
  4. When prompted, enter the email address the file had been sent to.
    • Remember that this email address must already be set up as a Microsoft Account to decrypt the attachment.

  5. Complete your Microsoft account sign in, including MFA, if it is enabled.

  6. The attachment will open into the Microsoft application.



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Article ID: 155002
Mon 10/16/23 2:35 PM
Wed 12/6/23 3:42 PM

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