Privacy-conscious email providers to keep your correspondence safe
Since Edward Snowden's revelations about American intelligence listening programs, the public has become aware that message confidentiality and privacy on the Internet are not guaranteed. While the debate was raging (should we improve security at the expense of privacy?), more revelations were made and bills were multiplying. Services to escape mass surveillance and preserve one's privacy developed. Why and how do you opt for a secure email service today? What offerings are available? Here's a list to help you make this choice.
ProtonMail is an encrypted webmail service created in 2013 at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The service distinguishes itself from other mail providers (such as Gmail and Outlook.com) by allowing users to encrypt emails end-to-end. The service can be used via a web browser on a computer (via webmail) or via dedicated iOS and Android applications. ProtonMail is managed by Proton Technologies AG, a company based in the canton of Geneva, Switzerland. Its servers are located at two locations in Switzerland, which is outside the jurisdiction of the United States and the European Union. As of December 2015, ProtonMail had 1 million users. Initially available by invitation only, the service has been open to all since March 2016. The service is also accessible through the Tor network.
Price: ProtonMail offers a free version and three paid plans from 5€ to 30€ a month.
Tutanota automatically encrypts all data on your device. Your emails and contacts remain private. You can easily communicate with your friends through end-to-end encrypted emails. The subject and attachments of your emails are also encrypted. Tutanota uses open source encryption to secure your email account and is licensed under GPL v3 - essential for a security service. It being open source means that it allows security experts to verify the code that protects your emails.
Price: Tutanota offers a free version and a paid version at 1€ per month. You can also buy more storage and aliases.
Posteo is an independent email provider for whom durability, security, data protection and ease of use are essential. Posteo operates entirely without advertising and 100% with the green energy provided by Greenpeace Energy. In the era of Internet surveillance, Posteo protects the privacy of its users with its innovative encryption and security concept.
Price: The service costs 1€ per month.
StartMail was launched in 2013 by StartPage / ixquick, whose reputation is well known. Its "mission" is to ensure the confidentiality of its members by allowing them to communicate privately, without being spied on by governments. After a beta version on Invitation, StartMail is accessible to everyone in paid version.
Price: For individuals and businesses, the service costs $ 59.95 a year.
Mailfence is a messaging company that favours the respect of privacy by encrypting communications between your computer and its servers via an SSL certificate issued by a European company. Storage of data and backups takes place exclusively in Belgium. There is no activity monitoring, no backdoors to your account, and there is total control over its servers. The service claims to provide full protection against the NSA and PRISM.
Price: Mailfence offers a free version and two paid versions starting from 2€50 per month.
Disroot is a project based in Amsterdam, that is maintained by volunteers and depends on the support of its community. They offer 4GB of free storage, accept Bitcoin, and offer built in encryption. Disroot is definitely a company worth checking out, as they have a great platform with a tremendous amount of options.
Price: Disroot is completely free
Kolab Now is another open-source email service with servers fully hosted and managed in Switzerland (just like ProtonMail), so your private data is never read by any other party. The service targets small- and medium-sized enterprises, in particular those wishing to transmit privileged or confidential information by e-mail. Just like Posteo, Kolab Now makes money by billing its users directly and has two plans for an individual account. Other features include an integrated note-taking application, email tagging support, contacts and calendar, shared folders, and more.
Price: Two paid plans starting at $5 a month.
Mailbox is a Germany-based provider of email messaging, calendars, storage space and document editing services. Document editing is a big plus: it replaces Google Drive or Microsoft Office 365's Microsoft Outlook.
Price: The service costs 1€ per month but offers a free 30-day trial version.
Runbox is an independent public company based in Oslo, Norway. The Runbox email service was launched in September 2000. The company in its present form was founded in March 2011 and is owned by employees and members of the Board of Directors (76.2% in 2014) and close associates. As a Norwegian public limited company, Runbox Solutions is regulated by strong Norwegian consumer and privacy laws.
Price: The service offers several packages starting from $19.95 a year.
Neomailbox is a fast, secure and reliable email service with IP anonymity, protection against spam and viruses, unlimited disposable addresses, and more.
Price: The service is charged from $49.95 per year (you can pay more for more storage).
OpenMailBox is an online solution that offers the hosting of free e-mail addresses for a wide audience who want to benefit from a quality service driven by a free and independent philosophy. Protection of users' privacy is emphasized, which is why OpenMailBox makes every effort to guarantee the security of the data entrusted to them.
Price: The service offers a free version as well as a paid plan at 4.99€ per month.
Countermail is another email service provider with several unique features. It uses the OpenPGP encryption protocol with 4096 keys to protect your data and also offers end-to-end encryption. It offers a secure USB stick option that makes it impossible to access your account without your USB stick being inserted into a USB port. CounterMail supports Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. It also supports IMAP if you want to use your own email client.
Price: You can try Countermail for free for a week, after which prices start at $6.33 a month.
Riseup provides online communication tools for individuals and groups who advocate for liberating social change. It's a project to create democratic alternatives and practice self-determination by controlling your own secure means of communication.
Price: The service is completely free.
If you need a very high level of privacy in your email, all of the above services have a good reputation when it comes to protecting your data. One of the reasons they're so brilliant is that even if governments wanted to search you for whatever reason and companies had to transmit your information by law, it would be virtually impossible for them to get past their encryption systems.
Finally, note that an e-mail sent in clear text to or from Gmail (or any other unsecured email service) may be stored securely by ultra-secured mail, but it will remain stored on Gmail servers if the receiver is using it. To be truly secure, exchanges must be secure from end to end.
Comments on Privacy-conscious email providers to keep your correspondence safe
Sign up to comment, it's simple!
Echo echo ... Feels empty in here
Maybe you want to be the first to submit a comment?