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Making moves
Status: Delivered

I use encryption heavily, S/MIME for work, and OpenPGP for personal email.

For work, each S/MIME encrypted message does not show its encryption status, as OpenPGP does.  This is a problem for detecting Phishing emails which won't be encrypted, but otherwise look legitimate in Thunderbird.

What I'd like is a similar treatment to the encryption identification used for OpenPGP, which displays this


and gives me quick access to message encryption information:


Instead, my S/MIME encrypted email looks like this:


Which appears to be unencrypted.  BTW, S/MIME email otherwise works well in Thunderbird 100+ and the way I'd expect.  I need the visual cues to go with each S/MIME encrypted message to provide encryption information at the same level of detail as OpenPGP.  It would also be nice to have a reminder the S/MIME Subject: is not encrypted, with the ability to suppress this reminder.  Using both OpenPGP and S/MIME for different accounts in the same email tool, it's easy to forget when I'm using S/MIME that an unencrypted Subject line slightly increases the security risk of S/MIME email over how the Subject line is handled in OpenPGP.  This S/MIME reminder/knowledge usually prompts me to use a less targeted subject line to provide fewer clues about message content for would be attackers using automated tools to flag email worth further plundering.

I'm currently using this version of Thunderbird



Status changed to: New idea
Community Manager
Community Manager

Thanks for submitting an idea to the Mozilla Connect community! Your idea is now open to votes (aka kudos) and comments.

Making moves

Looks like this is now available in the newer versions of Thunderbird under Windows (haven't checked Ubuntu linux yet).  This is a major improvement in the war of detecting Phishing!  We always encrypt messages at work.  I don't know who implemented this, but THANK YOU!

BTW, as a gesture of good will, I donated, and plan to annually.

Thunderbird Team
Thunderbird Team

Craig, thanks for the donation!

The developer writes "Since 102, whenever we compose an email set to s/mime with encryption turned on, we always display a broken lock icon in the subject field to remind the user that subject is unencrypted.  So we have always showed these encryption and signature status icons for S/MIME messages. It was like that even before we had the OpenPGP integration. I suspect something was broken in the user's profile that prevent the icon display maybe."


Making moves

More information...

It appears only messages from MS Exchange Server retrieved through OWL are missing this visual S/MIME information.  My private PostFix server is displaying both S/MIME and OpenPGP information.

This suggests to me that either MS Exchange Server or OWL is not passing something significant along to Thunderbird to allow display of S/MIME status.

I now see the broken lock icon… nice!

Status changed to: Delivered
Community Manager
Community Manager

This has been delivered - check out @wsmwk's recent comment for more info.

Thanks again for your help in making this happen and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with you all here on Mozilla Connect 🙌

Share your next great idea.

Making moves

I contacted the OWL add-on developer asking about encryption information display, and how this relates to security and identifying phishing email, as phishing email won't be encrypted.  I received this courteous and carefully considered response:

I understand that it's very important for you to have the encryption indicator. Unfortunately, it is not a supported feature.

Unfortunately, we cannot promise that 100% of all Thunderbird features are supported in Exchange accounts.
You will find that most things work, but there are a few features here and there missing. These are not bugs. We have to re-program a lot of these features manually, due to the API structure of Thunderbird, which often does not allow us to re-use parts of the Thunderbird code.
Some features we don't support - or support only to a limited degree -, for various reasons, are:
  • Encrypted email
  • Compacting folders
  • Automatic Junk mail filtering on the client side
  • Some specific mail filters
Sorry for the bad news.
Best regards,
Owl support
Obviously, OWL provides necessary Exchange Server functionality not otherwise available to Thunderbird, making OWL a very useful add-on.
BTW, this is the S/MIME Icon display when I'm connecting to a non-MS Exchange Server platform:


Making moves

Betterbird 115.5.1 can search in encrypted S/MIME messages. See the comparison chart here