With more people becoming aware of email data mining, there has been a shift towards encrypting emails. When looking for email protection, you usually want and end-to-end encryption, meaning your emails will be encrypted locally, on your computer. The ‘end-to-end’ refers to the origin and destination of your message: the encrypted message is sent through your email provider’s servers and arrives at your intended destination; once there, the contents are decrypted on their computers. The decryption keys needed to translate the encryption is stored locally, meaning only the sender and receiver have access to the email — not even your email provider has access to the contents of your email.
There are numerous user benefits to using end-to-end encryption. First, because you email provider cannot access your email content, they are unable to mine the information from your emails in order to profit from targeted ads. Further, because the email company cannot access your emails, they likewise cannot comply with government orders to hand over your email information; in this way you private emails stay private.
This article takes a look at four encrypted email providers that we would like to recommend to you. There are of many other options available as encrypted emails grow in popularity; however, we feel that these four merit special attention.
When you think of Swiss banks, the idea of incredible confidentiality and privacy almost immediately comes to mind. It’s no surprise, then, that the Swiss-based email provider ProtonMail would offer the same top-notch confidentiality service for your electronic mail needs.
ProtonMail was co-founded by Andy Yen, a scientist at CERN — the largest particle physics laboratory in the world — as he was looking for an email alternative that doesn’t fall into the hands of the NSA. His solution was ProtonMail, the email provider that doesn’t mine your data for third parties or advertisers and won’t turn your emails over to the NSA. When asked why users should trust ProtonMail in an interview reported on by TechCrunch, Yen replied, simply, that you don’t have to. ProtonMail is designed with a zero-access architecture, giving companies no access to your emails. To prove they don’t have email access, they open-sourced their code for everyone to see. Check out Andy Yen giving his Ted Talk on email privacy:
The German-created email provider Tutanota was rolled out of beta in March, 2015. Tutanota was designed to be the same type of encrypted email provider that ProtonMail had created but with better usability and a more comprehensive interface; essentially, it tries to bring the use of encrypted emails to mainstream users who require a more user-friendly tool. TechCrunch reports more on Tutanota’s release here.
Tutanota is available across almost all of your devices, such as both Android and iOS.
Google and Yahoo begin end-to-end encryption
Yes it’s true, the email giants have begun work on offering end-to-end encryption for their email services. As reported on by TechDirt, Google has been working on a project called ‘end-to-end’ that enables end-to-end encryption with the source code available on GitHub. Yahoo has worked to release their own extension said to work similar to Mailvelope, a browser extension you can read more about here. Yahoo’s extension source code is available in their GitHub repository so users are able to see how both email giants treat their data.
While these settings obviously won’t become default by these companies — because they make money off of mining your data — it is nice to see the larger email providers showing this level of responsibility and care for their users’ privacy. Well stated by TechDirt was the idea that the email giants must evolve and begin to offer better email privacy at the cost of ad revenue; otherwise, there might be a time when users walk away from giant email providers for comparable options that protect user privacy.
About Ryan Jeethan
Ryan is a recent graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Arts & Business program focusing on UW’s unique Speech Communication program.