Many parties are seeking to eavesdrop on our conversations, from hackers to companies to overreaching governments. Free email companies utilize software to mine information from your emails and contacts in order to offer you more tailored advertisements.
If you’re tired of this situation and want to keep your conversations safe from prying eyes, consider using a secure, encrypted email service instead.
Why Should You Use an Encrypted Email Service?
Gmail by Google has almost 1.5 billion users, whereas Outlook by Microsoft has 400 million. There’s a strong possibility you’re presently using a free email service. These services seem to be excellent value for money—-after all, they are free—-but they do come at a cost: your privacy.
We use email for our most private discussions and documents, so it seems to reason that you would want to keep them secret as well. However, like with many free services, if you do not pay, your data becomes the product. Google was renowned for scanning the content of your emails in order to offer you relevant advertising. That function has subsequently been removed, however your data is still freely accessible to the supplier.
This is exacerbated further by the ties these suppliers have, intentionally or unwillingly, with law enforcement organizations all across the globe. Because many of the world’s most popular email providers are situated in the United States, they are vulnerable to demands from law enforcement and the NSA. If you utilize these services, you should also encrypt your webmail service.
Encrypted email is the best secure option to free email services, allowing you to keep important information hidden. Most encrypted email services are situated outside of the United States, making them inaccessible to the NSA. Even if such agencies acquire access to your account, encryption ensures that only you have access to your data.
Price: Free. Premium accounts available.
Storage: 500MB. Up to 20GB for premium accounts.
ProtonMail was created by CERN researchers and originally introduced in 2013. The open-source, encrypted email service left beta in March 2016 after a successful crowdfunding campaign. ProtonMail employs end-to-end encryption, which means that communications are only visible to you and the receiver. As a result, it is often regarded as one of the finest private email services.
Although there are paid choices, the majority of the service’s users have free accounts. It is legitimate to wonder how they will fund the service without relying on targeted advertising. Fortunately, the corporation has a Defence Fund that can continue the service for up to a year without any more money.
All data is held on the company’s servers in Switzerland, a nation noted for its strict privacy and data protection laws. ProtonMail has, importantly, open-sourced components of their service. The code is accessible on ProtonMail’s GitHub for anybody to inspect and verify the platform’s security.
Although emails to and from other ProtonMail users are end-to-end encrypted, ProtonMail may scan these emails to guard against spam if you interact with unencrypted services such as Gmail. However, since these messages are scanned in memory, they are not saved and will be erased in a short period of time. After the email has been analyzed, it is encrypted. If all of this encryption terminology is baffling you, you should study up on encryption words you should be familiar with.
The sole exception is when the data is kept in a backup, which may take up to 14 days to completely delete. There is no need to provide any personal information while registering. You will even be able to pay for premium accounts with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. If you want to avoid Google’s numerous services, your ProtonMail account includes access to ProtonDrive, an encrypted Google Drive-style cloud storage service, and ProtonCalendar, an encrypted online calendar.
Proton Technologies AG, ProtonMail’s parent business, also creates ProtonVPN, a multi-platform VPN. ProtonVPN, like the email service, has free and premium versions. Some ProtonMail premium accounts provide access to ProtonVPN’s premium services as well. ProtonVPN was even named one of the top unlimited free VPN services.
Download: ProtonMail for Android | iOS | Web (Free)
Price: Free. Premium accounts available.
Storage: 1GB. Up to 10GB for premium accounts.
Tutanota was created by the German business Tutao GmbH in 2011. The name of the service is derived from the Latin meaning secure message. Tutanota is a free encrypted email service, which should come as no surprise. Because their servers are likewise located in Germany, they are subject to the strict Federal Data Protection Act.
While it sounds fantastic in principle, it’s also worth recalling that Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service worked on surveillance projects with their American colleagues, the NSA. While this affects any data stored in Germany, there is no evidence that Tutanota was ever involved. However, for those concerned about their privacy, it is worth remembering as one of the finest encrypted email services.
Tutanota, like ProtonMail, employs end-to-end encryption to safeguard the privacy of your emails. The way the service handles external emails differs somewhat. Tutanota delivers a link to a temporary account where the receiver may read the message when you send a message to another email provider, such as Gmail.
Tutanota is also open source, with the source code accessible on the Tutanota GitHub website. All data in your inbox is encrypted, and only information such as sender, recipient, and date are accessible. However, according to their FAQ, they are also researching towards encrypting metadata.
The encryption algorithms used by the firm include 2048-bit RSA and 128-bit AES. They do not, however, offer PGP, a characteristic that is often used to evaluate secure email services. Having said that, they claim their encryption has benefits over PGP, such as encrypting the subject line.
The Tutanota Calendar, an encrypted online diary, was introduced by the firm in early 2020. There is also opportunity for them to develop other encrypted services in the future, such as the planned cloud storage.
While you may create a Tutanota account for free, they also provide premium services. A Premium membership is just 12€ per year and includes the ability to add an extra user, utilize up to five aliases, and support for custom domains.
Download: TutaNota for Android | iOS | Web (Free)
Price: Free. Premium accounts available.
Storage: 500MB of emails, 500MB of documents as standard.
Mailfence is a free secure email service developed by the same people that created ContactOffice. ContactOffice saw a need for a privacy-focused email service after the Snowden disclosures about US government eavesdropping.
Their servers are located in Belgium, which, like many other European nations post-GDPR, has strict privacy legislation. These policies often favor the customer over the firm, improving consumer safeguards. Unlike certain countries, such as the Five Eyes nations, there is no proof that Belgium participated in NSA monitoring operations.
When selecting a new digital service, one question is whether it will be operating for years to come. ContactOffice was founded in 1999, therefore the firm has a lengthy history. They also make money for Mailfence by licensing the software to enterprises. To do so, they must keep their software proprietary, hence Mailfence is not open-source.
Mailfence, unlike the other services on this list, is more than simply a secure email provider. A user account provides access to calendars, contacts, and document storage. Free accounts have 500MB of email storage, 500MB of document storage, and one calendar. Accounts at the Entry, Pro, and Ultra levels enhance this storage and offer new features. You may even pay for your account with Bitcoin, further enhancing its privacy credentials.
There was no Mailfence mobile application for many years. However, the business introduced a progressive web app (PWA) for the secure email service in January 2021. Rather of developing specific applications for Android and iOS, the business used a device-independent strategy.
This also corresponds to the company’s pro-privacy position. Instead of complying with Apple and Google’s regulations, anybody with Chrome or Safari installed may use the software. You may send and receive encrypted emails, use additional Mailfence services, and interact with your private or group workplaces via the PWA.
Mailfence is end-to-end encrypted and OpenPGP compatible. On your computer, you may produce a key, which is then encrypted using 256-bit AES and kept on Mailfence’s servers. They also enable two-factor authentication to protect your account against illegal access.
Taking a position for your ideas is wonderful in and of itself, but ContactOffice also contributes 15% of the revenue from their Pro and Ultra plans to pro-privacy groups. Donations are now made to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the European Digital Rights Foundation (EDRi).
Download: Mailfence for Web | Mobile App (Free)
Storage: 1GB, upgradeable.
Disroot, founded in the Netherlands, offers free secure email. Disroot is an exception to the rule that free email services, particularly those without premium offerings, are not advised. The program was established in response to a scarcity of comparable services and is administered entirely by volunteers with contributions.
Disroot offers a full suite of work and communication capabilities packaged in an Office-style online service. Disroot, unlike many of its competitors, is open-source, decentralized, and some of their services are federated.
Although there are several reasons to utilize open-source software, the majority of individuals do so because of what it represents. To them, the open-source community reflects the early internet’s openness and values, before major corporations started to dominate the industry. Disroot is a component of this movement, which goes beyond open source and towards decentralization and federalization.
Federalization, which allows various services to speak with one another, is a prominent aspect of alternative social networks. Disroot’s email service, on the other hand, is completely private. The service has been in existence since 2015, yet use is difficult to quantify since the corporation does not maintain track of active users.
Download: Disroot for Web (Free)
Storage: 2GB, upgradeable.
Posteo is a German encrypted email service provider. Posteo is the finest alternative to ProtonMail in many aspects, and it mimics many of the features seen on other providers. Unlike ProtonMail, however, your data is encrypted centrally on Posteo’s servers rather than end-to-end.
While this means it isn’t the safest email service, there are benefits to not having end-to-end encryption. You may, for example, quickly set up your Posteo account on any email program or app, providing you more choice over how you access your mail. Your account also includes an Address Book and Calendar, making the transfer from Gmail or Outlook easier.
Posteo has been in business since 2009, making it one of the most experienced secure email providers. However, after the Snowden revelations, its popularity and usage skyrocketed. Posteo released DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities about the same time (DANE).This solution protects against man-in-the-middle attacks and enforces provider-to-provider encryption when it is available.
With their Crypto Mail Storage tool, you can also encrypt all of your emails, attachments, and other data with a single click. Your emails will no longer be accessible on the server without your password when you enable encryption. This stops Posteo or any third-party from accessing your server data.
Crypto Mail Storage, on the other hand, is an optional feature that is turned off by default. All of Posteo’s servers in Frankfurt are encrypted to secure your data even if this encryption is not used. They are housed by a third-party data center, but encryption prohibits anybody in the data center from seeing your data.
Posteo is likewise concerned with long-term financial and environmental viability. Greenpeace Energy provides green and sustainable energy to all of their servers and offices. To guarantee the company’s independence, they have no debts, no loans, and rely only on user subscriptions for funding. Umweltbank, one of Germany’s environmental banks, handles their funds as well.
Download: Posteo for Web (Subscription required)
The Most Secure Email Provider
Many free email companies either do not safeguard your privacy or actively want to harm it. Switching to an encrypted email account is a worthwhile choice that is also an easy method to increase your security. When selecting a provider, consider their encryption techniques, how they fund the service, and where the servers are situated.
Of fact, no internet service is completely safe, regardless of the provider’s ethics. Hackers and spy agencies will constantly be trying to extend their ever-expanding databases. Don’t overlook the fundamentals when it comes to increasing your security. That is why you should think about boosting your internet hygiene.
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