Traditional email services like Gmail or Outlook are far from secure and private. The companies that operate them make money by selling their customers’ user data to various third-parties, and they readily cooperate with law enforcement agencies like CIA and NSA, helping them access encrypted communication and attachments. Fortunately, there are email services that shun such practices, offering impenetrable security and privacy that you can depend on.
Not sure what they are? Here are a handful of the best choices available today.
ProtonMail was founded in 2013 at the CERN research facility by Dr. Andy Yen, Dr. Bart Butler, Jason Stockman and Wei Sun, and the service has since then established itself as the most popular provider of end-to-end encrypted email. ProtonMail has servers located at two locations in Switzerland, and it uses a combination of public-key cryptography and symmetric encryption protocols to encrypt the users’ emails and other user data.
ProtonMail can be accessed either using the web browser or directly from its mobile apps, which are available both for iOS and Android. Regardless of how you access ProtonMail, you will always be greeted with a modern, optimized user interface that makes reading, organizing, and sending encrypted emails effortlessly. ProtonMail is fully optimized for use with all other email services—even those that are not secure—so you can use it as your primary email service for all your email communication needs.
CounterMail offers an automatic and transparent encryption mechanism using a strong encryption protocol called OpenPGP. Unlike traditional email service providers, CounterMail operates on a diskless architecture, which prevents CounterMail web server from leaking IP-addresses to a hard drive. Should someone ever steal a CounterMail web server, the person wouldn’t find any useful information.
CounterMail servers are located in Sweden, a country with strong digital privacy laws. Like ProtonMail, CounterMail can be accessed either through a web interface or a mobile app. Just don’t be surprised by how barebones CounterMail’s user interface is. The developers clearly value function over form, which means that the security of your email communication is guaranteed, but it also means that it might be slightly harder to use the service.
Hushmail is an established secure email service for personal and professional users alike. It supports two-step verification, Touch ID, and multiple accounts, allowing you to stay both productive and secure at the same time. The company behind Hushmail, Hush Communications, was founded way back in 1998, and they released the first version of Hushmail just a year later. Hush Communications has since then worked tirelessly to offer a way for individuals and businesses how to communicate privately and securely over the Internet with ease.
Hushmail’s iOS app is available to all Hushmail Premium or Hushmail Business users. You can use it to send and receive encrypted email using your existing Hushmail email address, get notifications when you receive new emails, protect access to your accounts with Touch ID, send email from your email aliases, and add up to 10 compatible accounts. If you only have a regular Hushmail account, you can still access your inbox via the web interface.
Headquartered in Germany, Tutanota has been providing end-to-end encrypted email since 2011 using a standardized, hybrid method consisting of a symmetrical and an asymmetrical algorithm. Tutanota released its source code for public review in 2014 on GitHub, which has led to numerous improvements and bug fixes, making its excellent secure email service more robust.
Tutanota offers two different accounts: free and premium. Both types are limited to 1 GB of storage space, but premium accounts include some additional features which free accounts lack, such as custom domain support, inbox rules, email aliases, custom logo, and premium support, among others. Regardless of which type of account you have, you can download and use the Tutanota app to comfortably send and receive encrypted emails while on the go.
MsgSafe is an upcoming secure email service that relies on 4096-bit GPG and S/MIME encryption keys and certificates to ensure that nobody besides you can read your communication. Apart from email, MsgSafe also supports secure and private audio and video services, making it a great alternative to FaceTime, Skype, Duo, Hangouts and similar services hosted by companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google.
Because MsgSafe is still very young, its mobile app is only available to a handful of testers. Until that changes, you can use MsgSafe from any modern web browser and easily take advantage of all the modern features it has to offer. If you only need up to 1 GB of storage space and 25 daily outbound emails, you don’t need to pay anything to use MsgSafe. And if you would like more, MsgSafe has three yearly and monthly plans to satisfy your needs.
As you can see, there are a variety of services that you can use for encrypted and secure mail. If you want to make sure that no one is snooping around with your emails, these five services should be able to help you out. Most of these are all independent services, so you don’t have to worry about emails running through questionable mail servers like Google.
Do you have. favorite secure email service? Let us know in the comments below.