It's time to switch over for privacy's sake
In the last decade or so, it’s been common for most users with an online presence to have a free Gmail or Yahoo email address. These users also tend to feel satisfied with the features and functionality afforded to them with these services forgoing the need for a more secure email provider.
Many users feel that more security is unnecessary for their needs as they have very little, if anything, to hide from prying eyes. These same users are also not privy to the fact that companies like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook will sell your email data to government agencies or whomever is the highest bidder.
When you sign up for a new Gmail account you are giving Google consent to scan your emails for keywords. These keywords are then analyzed and the results are used to target you with product personalization.
When it comes to the more popular names like Gmail and Yahoo, they are still secure email providers. They do however, pale in comparison to the more lesser-known providers which offer high-end security and encryption features on top of much better online privacy protection.
The 4 Most Secure Email Providers Today
The bulk of these email providers offer varying ranges of free and paid plans. The free plans often providing limited features in terms of email accounts and storage capacity. The paid plans are more of an inexpensive, full-featured service where your dollar can really go a long way.
These secure email providers will not collect or sell your data, scan your emails for keywords, nor allow any government agencies to take a peek at your server data. If you want to keep your emails as secure as possible, you should consider one of the following email services.
CounterMail has a simple philosophy: provide a secure and easy to use online email service while providing maximum security and privacy with minimal complication. If you have serious email privacy concerns, CounterMail offers a secure implementation of OpenPGP encrypted email in a browser. Only encrypted emails are stored on CounterMail servers.
The servers, located in Sweden, don’t store emails on hard disks, opting instead to store them on CD-ROMs. This method prevents in and outgoing traffic from being read by others, and the moment someone tries to tamper with the server directly, the data is likely lost.
CounterMail is also the only web-based, secure email provider that implements a USB dongle feature. This provides an additional layer of protection in the form of physical security. Kind of like a physical version of Two-Factor Authorization, you must first enable the feature.
The decryption key, which is required to login and decrypt your emails, can also be found on the device itself. This makes it so that decryption is impossible even if a hacker gets a hold of your password.
Countermail offers up a one-week free trial, which includes 3MB of space, after which you will need to purchase a plan to keep using the service. If you need more storage, you can purchase extra space. Extra space requires a payment of a one-time fee, so you only have to pay it once.
ProtonMail is a free, open-source, secure email provider that features end-to-end encryption. This means that no one is decrypting your encrypted emails without your unique password.
This serves a sort of double-edged sword. You see, it’s so secure that even ProtonMail wouldn’t be able to help you to recover your emails if you forget your password. The service will also not keep your IP address information meaning that emails you send or receive cannot be traced back to you.
When sending an email to a recipient who does not use ProtonMail, you can make a choice of whether to send the email encrypted or unencrypted. The way it works is that ProtonMail will send out the message as encrypted but leave a link in the email. You will need to provide the recipient with a password so that they can decrypt it on their end.
There’s no software to install on your computer, and ProtonMail offers apps for both iOS and Android devices. The free version supports 500MB of email storage but limits messages to 150 per day.
There are paid plans for single and business users alike that will provide more storage space, less limitations, and more features. The higher the tier, the higher the price so ensure you choose the right plan for you.
Hushmail is an encrypted email service that’s been around for quite some time. The service keeps your emails secure and locked behind state-of-the-art encryption methods. Similar to ProtonMail, Hushmail is unable to access your messages as is the same for anyone else who doesn’t have the password.
The service offers an easy-to-use interface, simplistic design, and top-notch privacy protection features. It also allows users to send encrypted messages between both other Hushmail users and non-Hushmail users who prefer their lesser protected providers.
Creating a Hushmail account provides you the opportunity to choose from a variety of domains to use in your address, such as @hushmail, @hushmail.me, @hush.com, @hush.ai, and @mac.hush.com.
Each email is encrypted with OpenPGP encryption meaning every recipient who happens to use Hushmail will be able to decrypt and read it. For non-Hushmail users, the service provides an encrypted message with a link that can only be accessed via provided passphrase. This is possible on the website as well as iOS and Android devices. It is not however, compatible with MacOS.
As with most secure email providers of this caliber, Hushmail offers both personal and business options when you sign up. When it comes to free, there is a free two-week trial that allows you to test all the features before buying. When it comes to time to buy, Hushmail is available starting at $49.98 annually.
Another open-source, web-based email application is Tutanota. The service focuses on providing an easy-to-use application with the highest security and privacy standards. All of Tutanota’s servers are based in Germany, meaning that all pertaining privacy laws are applicable.
Tutanota provides end-to-end encryption that is very simple to use and works for both Tutanota users and non-users. Seems to be a theme to these highly secure email account providers. Only you and the recipient will be able to see the emails. So, just like the last three entries on the list, do yourself a favor and remember your password.
Content access is made easy as all emails and email attachments are stored right on Tutanota’s servers. The service utilizes a custom solution that uses 2049-bit RSA keys and employs AES-128 encryption keys for stronger security.
Tutanota’s biggest and best feature is in the way it does its pricing. The application is completely free of charge granting you access to one email address and 1GB of storage space. If this isn’t enough for you, the Plus account starts at only $1.50 per month and includes the option to use your own domain for your email, additional email aliases, and a premium support line.
A desktop version as well as apps for both iOS and Android are available. Overall, with so many great features available to most major operating systems, Tutanota may be the best secure email provider for someone on a budget.