ProtonMail is a Swiss email service that prioritizes privacy and security.
Accounts may be created without giving any identifying information. And all emails are kept in such a manner that even ProtonMail workers are unable to see their contents.
ProtonMail is a good alternative for sending encrypted emails.
Emails between ProtonMail users are automatically encrypted. However, the firm makes it simple to send encrypted emails to anybody, independent of provider.
What Is Email Encryption?
Email encryption is the technique of encrypting emails so that they can only be read by the intended recipient.
There are two main protocols used to achieve this.
- TLS is used for in-transit encryption.
- End-to-end encryption
TLS, or Transport Layer Security, is a feature that is included with all major email services. It stops emails from being viewed after they are sent but before they are received.
TLS is mainly intended to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks. It’s a useful feature, but it doesn’t safeguard emails after they’ve arrived in the recipient’s inbox.
This implies that if a third party gains access to the recipient’s email server, such emails may still be accessed.
As a result, using TLS alone for sensitive emails is not advised.
End-to-end encryption necessitates a more rigorous approach to email security.
Emails are encrypted until they are opened by the intended recipient, according to this protocol.
We will be addressing end-to-end encryption in this post.
Related: What Is End-to-End Encryption?
How Does Email Encryption Work With ProtonMail?
Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, is a kind of end-to-end encryption used by ProtonMail.
All inboxes are given both a public and a private key under this protocol. Only the owner of the inbox has access to the private key. All emails are encrypted and saved. And they can only be accessible by the owner of the inbox.
This is referred to as zero-access encryption. And it’s a significant improvement over TLS, which leaves emails at rest vulnerable to hacking.
If ProtonMail was ever hacked, the contents of your inbox would be unavailable to whomever carried out the assault.
How to Send Encrypted Emails to Other ProtonMail Users
End-to-end encryption is automatically applied to all emails sent between ProtonMail users.
Your public key is automatically included when you send an email. When you get an email, their public key is loaded immediately. You are not required to do anything else.
If you receive an email and are unsure if the sender is using ProtonMail, look at the From field.
If the email was sent by another ProtonMail user, a purple lock will appear next to the sender’s email address.
How to Send Encrypted Emails Using PGP
PGP may also be used with non-ProtonMail users if they understand the idea and use an email client or plug-in that supports it.
To do so, you must first exchange public keys. To transmit your public key to the receiver, perform the following:
- Open the editor and start typing a new email.
- Click on the drop down menu, which is positioned above and to the right of the text editor.
- Select the Attach Public Key checkbox.
- Send the email
Someone else must send you an email in order for you to get a public key.
To import a public key, you should do the following.
- Open the email that contains the public key.
- ProtonMail will show a yellow notification just over the contents of the email. Select Trust Key.
- ProtonMail will ask for your approval through a pop-up window. Select Use for Encryption again, then Trust Key.
Any emails you send to that individual will now be protected by PGP end-to-end encryption.
When you receive an encrypted email, there will be a green lock next to the sender’s email address.
How to Send Encrypted Emails Using Password Protection
If you don’t want to utilize PGP encryption, ProtonMail also lets you send password-protected emails.
This is an excellent choice if you wish to send an encrypted email to someone who is unfamiliar with PGP.
It provides a comparable degree of security, but bear in mind that it cannot be used to receive email.
Here are the steps.
- Launch the editor and create an email as usual.
- When you’re done, click the lock symbol (located below the text editor, to the left of the send button)
- Enter and confirm a password of your choice – you may include a password hint if you like.
- ProtonMail will send the recipient a message informing them that an encrypted email is ready for them, along with a link to view it.
- Following the link will lead them to ProtonMail, where they will be prompted to enter their password in order to access the email.
- The email is automatically erased if the receiver does not click the link within 28 days.
The apparent disadvantage of this method is that you must interact with the receiver in advance in order to exchange the password.
The receiver is also needed to open a link inside an email, which many people are understandably hesitant to do.
Is End-to-end Email Encryption Worth the Effort?
Pretty Good Privacy is a very effective and practical tool. However, it is not well-known for being user-friendly.
Password security is simpler to grasp, but you must still contact the receiver ahead of time.
End-to-end encryption is questionable since it is entirely dependent on how sensitive your emails are. What is unarguable is that without end-to-end encryption, nothing you submit has any meaningful assurance of privacy.
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