Every day, billions of emails are exchanged, clogging inboxes with everything from sales inquiries and customer service to spam and advertising.
Email was not created with security, privacy, or encryption in mind. Governments, ISPs, hackers, and large companies may all get into your account and read your emails. The good news is that you can safeguard your emails from prying eyes by using secure email providers.
Whether you’re a home user or work for a large corporation, it’s important to understand your email provider’s security measures. Furthermore, not all encrypted email services are safe and private. The following is a list of things to look for in a safe email service.
1. Encryption Method
Many email services include basic security features such as spam and virus prevention. However, depending on your sector and country, you may also wish to encrypt your email interactions.
Unencrypted emails have been blamed for multiple big breaches in recent years, revealing messages and passwords and costing businesses millions of dollars. Because email providers are aware of this, they will usually describe the encryptions they provide on their website.
Sending an email via an encrypted network scrambles the plain text of the email, making it hard to read without an encryption key.
If your email service provides no (or insufficient) encryption, cybercriminals may simply intercept your emails. Transport encryption is used by standard providers, such as Gmail, to encrypt communications between your device and the server. Google encrypts the communications at the network level on the server. However, Google has access to the data.
The email is subsequently sent from Google’s server to its intended recipient. If the recipient’s email service likewise employs transport encryption, the email will remain secure during its journey. Otherwise, the email will be unencrypted and easily intercepted.
Google, on the other hand, examines your Gmail data to provide tailored and helpful experiences like Smart Compose and Smart Reply.
End-to-end encryption is used by the most secure companies to safeguard your emails. This implies that communications are encrypted on the sender’s device and can only be decrypted by the designated recipient.
With end-to-end encryption, the receiver is the only one who can read the email you’re sending. Your emails are not even accessible to your email provider.
For end-to-end encrypted email, secure email companies such as Tutanota and ProtonMail employ Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). No one can read your emails this way, and your data is never used for advertising. You may forgo emails entirely and instead utilize encrypted messaging applications like Signal or Wire for more secure internal communication.
End-to-end encryption may be symmetric or asymmetric. Symmetric encryption employs a single key to encrypt and decipher plain text and ciphertext.
Asymmetric encryption, commonly known as public-key cryptography, uses two distinct sets of keys to encrypt and decode data. As a result, it is the most efficient of the two. To understand these encryptions better, you need first understand how encryption works and what it accomplishes.
Email service providers store records for a variety of purposes, including DDoS defense. IP addresses and connection times may be recorded in logs.
Your selection should be influenced by the quantity of data captured and how those logs are preserved. When an email service retains logs, this information may be shared with other parties.
The best secure email companies do not keep records, so you cannot be identified. IP addresses should likewise be removed from emails sent and received by the provider.
An attacker may learn your internet provider and physical address from your IP address. Consider utilizing a reliable VPN to effectively mask your IP address and location.
3. Two-Factor Authentication
Login information is regularly stolen or hacked and exploited to gain access to victims’ accounts. Because of Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), just obtaining your login and password will not allow you to access your email account.
2FA is based on two factors: something you know, such as a password, and something you have, such as a mobile phone. One of the most prevalent kinds of two-factor authentication is your email provider providing you an SMS code to use in conjunction with your login and password.
Each email contains metadata, which may be mined by attackers. Metadata may include details about your computer, online browser, network, and email receiver. Secure email providers often remove this information.
While the little morsels of information may seem to be insignificant, to an attacker, they are the first step toward knowing more about your chats. A hacker, for example, may mine metadata to learn about your life, habits, and preferences.
5. Server Location
The location of your email service may have an impact on data security and privacy since it impacts how the provider handles government demands for data.
Countries, including the Five Eyes countries, acquire and exchange intelligence data gleaned from email servers. Some countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom, have data-retention regulations that oblige email companies to keep data for a certain length of time.
Providers in the United States may be obliged to allow the government direct access to their servers in order to monitor conversations and stored data. Gagging orders may accompany data requests, prohibiting the supplier from revealing what is occurring to the users.
Depending on the nature of the email security issue, server location may be an important concern. For example, if you are an activist, journalist, or whistleblower who may anticipate the government to demand your correspondence, an email service based in Germany or Switzerland would be excellent. They are all subject to stricter privacy rules.
6. Paid Plans
The “free” limitless business model is inherently broken. Email service providers run and maintain servers, provide customer assistance, and other services. These things are expensive, thus a reputable email service would almost certainly charge for an account.
Many free email providers may end up causing more damage than good. Free email companies may gather and monetize your data via advertisements.
Secure companies often earn money by offering premium plans rather than advertisements or your data. Some of these services enable you to pay with Bitcoin anonymously.
Keep Conversations Private Using Secure Email Providers
Email is one of the least private methods of sending and receiving information online. Consider utilizing a secure email service to keep your correspondence safe.
There are several secure email providers available, each with its own set of capabilities. As a result, when selecting an email service, you should consider features such as end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and data center location.
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