Alex Williams
Alex Williams  —

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secure-emailAre your emails and attachments safe from unwanted eyes?

For those without a provider who takes personal privacy seriously, the truth is probably (and also surprisingly) no.

You may be more surprised to learn even email juggernauts fall behind in what you would expect of your inbox’s confidentiality:

  • Gmail was nabbed providing 3rd parties complete access to customer emails not so long ago as well as monitoring user purchases
  • Marketers can check AOL accounts, to target and segment prospective clients by noticing “contextual purchasing signals”
  • Yahoo was furthermore also nabbed for scanning emails on secret behalf of US monitoring agencies

One more issue is geo-locational jurisdictions that might impact the safety of your personal info. Some territories have regulations in place that shield your data (e.g. Switzerland), but many others do the opposite (e.g. United States).

More encouragingly, you can find a reasonably straightforward way of getting your inbox extra protected: move to a better provider - one who values your personal privacy.


Who Offers the Safest Email Solution? 🔐

email-malwareThere isn’t one ideal safe email option that will be the best option for everyone. Below are a couple of factors we’ve considered in this guide (and you should too, when considering switching service providers):

  • Territory - Where is the solution situated plus exactly how does this influence end user privacy? Also, where is your information actually saved?
  • PGP (for more, see FAQs later on in this guide)- Some protected email companies use PGP, but many others do not utilize PGP because of its susceptibilities and also weak points.
  • Imports - Can you migrate in your existing emails and contacts?
  • Apps - Due to file encryption, several protected email solutions do not support third-party email customers, however some likewise provide priority applications.
  • File encryptions - Are the emails secured en route end-to-end? Are emails and attachments encrypted successfully at rest?
  • Capabilities - Some functions you might intend to take into account are contacts, schedules, storage space, how advanced the inbox search is, teamwork options, and DAV support.
  • Protections - Are you aware of the service provider's safety and security standards and regulations?
  • Personal privacy - How does the email solution safeguard privacy? What data are they accumulating, for the length of time, and why?
  • Your risk appetite - How much personal privacy and also protection do you require plus which solution best fits those requirements?

The objective of this article is to help you identify the very best protected email option for you. This listing has been ranked generally. But it’s up to you to choose the very best protected email based on your specific needs. Below are the most trustworthy email carriers:


1. ProtonMail – Most Capable, Most Trusted 😇

Key Specifications:
  • Based in Switzerland
  • 5-20 GB Storage
  • $4.00/month
  • Free Plan Offers Up to 500 MB
  • Smartphone Apps
  • Import Calls w Emails via Bridge Tool
PROS
  • Strips IP Address from Emails
  • Emails Secured at Rest & Held on Servers
  • Funded by US Investors
CONS
  • A bit slower compared to competitors
  • Needs Phone Verification

This Swiss company also provides a quality VPN solution called ‘ProtonVPN’ and revels in a terrific track record in the personal privacy online community.

It was launched by a group of graduates employed by MIT. Quickly after that, it was advertised in the US as "the only email system the NSA could not access" - which was around when Lavabit was closed down for not following the US federal government.

Self-Destructing Messages 📨

Analysing the client itself, ProtonMail does a great deal of points. It handles PGP file encryptions plus saves all messages along with attached files secured at rest on Swiss server sites. ProtonMail has a one-of-a-kind tool for selectively destroying (“self-destructing”) messages plus have included address authorisation security measures with complete PGP support.

Despite the excellent encryption standards, keep in mind that ProtonMail cannot protect email subject lines, which is a fundamental constraint with PGP (not ProtonMail). In addition, the ProtonMail search feature can only search inbox subject lines but not contained content.

ProtonMail does supply some wonderful smartphone apps (Android and iPhone). You can also choose to make use of ProtonMail with third-party applications with the ProtonMail Bridge tool (limited to paid customers).

On the whole, ProtonMail is a well-regarded email supplier, ought to be a great choice for the majority of individuals. Switzerland continues to be a solid personal privacy territory that is not a participant of any type of monitoring partnerships.


2. Tutanota – Generous Free Tiers + Great Userface 📱

Key Specifications:
  • Based in Germany
  • 1-1,000 GB Storage
  • EUR1.00/month
  • Free Tier of Up to 1 GB
  • Bridge Tool
  • Forward Secrecy
PROS
  • Strips IP address from emails
  • Terrific uses for mobile phones
  • Free accounts with 1 GB Storage
CONS
  • No PGP
  • Possible Delays in Sign UP
  • No Migrations of Preexisting Emails

This German email solution is run by a group of privacy fanatics, without any external backers. You’ll find their service focuses on giving you the highest degree of email protection, yet still manages to be easy and intuitive to use.
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Their basic plan encrypts the subject line, uses onward privacy, plus can be innovatively bulwarked to fend off quantum-computer strikes, as they describe here... For sending out encrypted Tutanota emails, you have these options:

  • Emailing one or more Tutanota end users, which encrypts everything by default (non-symmetrical).
  • Emailing a non-Tutanota end user with a web link to the message including sharing a password for encoding/decoding messages (symmetrical file encryption).

One of the Safest Email Services 👍

While Tutanota makes use of high security specs as probably one of the most protected email service providers, it includes some tradeoffs: among them is no IMAP, PGP, POP, or SMTP. In addition, you can not migrate pre-existing emails straight into Tutanota, however they're presently working with including a transfer capability.

If you want an honest, high-security email service provider run by a small-sized group personal privacy aficionados, Tutanota is a strong selection.


3. MailBox.org – Fully-Featured & Comprehensive 📜

Key Specifications:
  • Based in Germany (Including Server)
  • Storage 2-100GB
  • Price EUR 1.00/month
  • PGP (Server-Side or via Third-Party App)
  • POP, IMAP, SMTP, ActiveSync, HSTS & PFS
  • vCard, CardDAV, CalDav assistance
PROS
  • Blocks Man-in-the-Middle Assaults
  • Advanced Inbox Search
  • Spam Filters
CONS
  • No Mobile (But Works w 3rd-Party Clients)
  • Some Monitoring in Course of Sign Up

This second German company is worth taking into consideration. Unlike some of the other solutions in this list, Mailbox.org is fully-featured - use this as a complete email and performance tool.

You typically have to choose between features and privacy these days. Mailbox.org gives you both in spades: use Mailbox.org with third-party clients or mobile apps. It has an advanced “full text search” feature, which means the actual content of emails in your database can be scanned.

Mailbox.org is really budget-friendly, with basic plans beginning at just EUR1 per month and also going up for even more storage space and functions. You can get a totally free 30-day trial-run if you want to check this client out before committing.


4. Posteo – Stealthiest Client With Smallest Digital Footprint 🐑

Key Specifications:
  • Storage 2- 20 GB
  • Price EUR 1.00/Month
  • Mail, Calendar, Contacts etc Secure with OpenPGP
  • Topic, Headers, Body, Metadata etc Secured
  • Has Calendar, Address Book & Notes
  • Self-Financed; Great Record
PROS
  • Environmentally Friendly Energy
  • No logs, IP address Removed
  • SMTP, POP, and IMAP
CONS
  • No Spam Folder (Declined or Sent to Inbox)
  • No Trial Run or Free Tier

Posteo is a third German email company that provides a high degree of privacy. It’s a fully-featured carrier that makes use of PGP file encryptions, with great plan rates.

A few of the cons include the fact that it doesn’t support custom domain names. There’s no spam folder (all emails are either sent to your inbox or declined). There's no trial run or cost-free plan (however it’s still rather budget-friendly).

That said, IP addresses are instantly removed from emails, no logs are maintained (using a VPN? Make sure you understand VPN logging policy), plus they use top-of-the-line file encryptions. They also let you sign up completely confidentially - you can even pay for a plan with cash money, which you can post out in the mail with absolutely no electronic footprint.


5. Mailfence – Stringent Data Protection Laws 🌐

Key Specifications:
  • Based in Belgium
  • Storage 5-50 GB
  • Price EUR 2.50/month
  • Complete OpenPGP
  • Messages, Docs, Calendar, Contacts & Groups
  • SMTP, POP & IMAP
PROS
  • Free Tier Up to 500MB
  • Fantastic Interface (Upgraded Recently)
  • Cryptocurrency Possible
CONS
  • Not Open Sourced
  • Logging of IP Addresses in Some Cases

Mailfence is a fully-featured safe client based in Belgium, which is a great personal privacy territory with stringent data protection legislations (though they are in the “14 eyes”). For those who want complete PGP control as well as interoperability, without plugins or additionals, Mailfence is a strong option.

You'll Probably Get Everything You Need 👌

Whether you are an individual or company, Mailfence likely has all the tools you need. Comparable to Mailbox.org, Mailfence is a complete email and performance package that competes with the likes of G Suite and Office 365.

In screening everything out for the Mailfence evaluation, we’ve found it to function effectively with an intuitive concept and slick design. Mailfence additionally supplies email/phone assistance, along with cryptocurrency payment options.

One disadvantage with Mailfence, which stands out from many others in our list, is the lack of an integrated way to access your whole inbox. Rather, your only choice to do this is manually with a 3rd party client. They are looking to incorporate this at some point in 2020.


6. Runbox – Eco-Friendly Privacy 🦓

Key Specifications:
  • Based in Norway
  • 1-25 GB Storage
  • Rate USD 1.66/month
  • Free One Month Trial
  • 100 Email Pen Names per Mailbox
  • Webmail, Contacts & Docs
PROS
  • Web Servers Use Renewable Energy
  • Allows SMTP, POP & Standard IMAP
  • GDPR Compliant
CONS
  • Browser-based; No Desktop or Mobile Apps
  • Close Source (Version 7 Will Open it)

Runbox is a long-running personal email solution in Norway that has actually been running for over 20 years. Norway is a great territory, despite its 14 eyes membership, with solid legal structures for personal privacy. All Runbox web servers lie in safe Norwegian information facilities, working on unpolluted, eco-friendly hydropower.

Runbox allows SMTP, POP & IMAP standard protocols and can be made use of with third-party email. Like Mailfence, Runbox does not have an integrated way to secure your whole mailbox. You can make use of PGP, but it’s not yet integrated right into the system. Lastly, there’s no integrated calendars, but this might be incorporated in Version 7.

Runbox provides 30 day cost-free trial runs and makes importing your existing emails easy with tutorials on their website. They are presently offering a 2 years for the cost of 1 discount which you can get here.


7. CounterMail – Private Swedish Client 🇸🇪

Key Specifications:
  • Based in Sweden
  • 4GB Storage
  • USD 4.83/month
  • Free 7 Day Free Trial
  • Integrated Password Manager
  • RSA, AES-CBC + SSL Security for Leakages/MitM
PROS
  • Accepts Cryptocurrency
  • Custom Domain Names
  • Message Filters w Autoresponders
CONS
  • Outdated Interface
  • Pricier Than Other Options

Next off up on our checklist is CounterMail, a secure email company based in Sweden. Countermail anonymizes email headers as well as removing the sender's IP address. All emails and attachments are log-free, stored on Swedish web servers. .

While CounterMail is a little bit pricier than a few other protected email carriers, it’s because they use premium web servers and tight safety procedures.

This client also shields customers from leakages as well as Man-In-The-Middle strikes with RSA and AES-CBC file encryptions, in addition to SSL. It might not have all the extravagances, yet CounterMail is a strong security-focused player with a 10+ year record.


Buying Guide 💳

Most Private Email Client 🏝️

ProtonMail is the top-most ranked protected web mail company today. It doesn't just give private email messaging, users get set up very quickly with a guarantee that they’ll be protected from email fraudsters, advertisers and any third-parties to the best of their ability.

Best Featured Private Email Client 👔

Mailbox.org blocks MitM attacks (read the FAQ section for more), has advanced inbox search abilities, and uses spam filters - all the while managing to offer PGP encryption and POP, IMAP, SMTP, ActiveSync, HSTS & PFS support.

The one missing feature is a native mobile app, but there are loads of quality third-party ones to choose from that will sync up just as well.

Best Value Private Email Client 💸

While Tutanota doesn’t have PGP, it still keeps your inbox private and gives you one of the best interfaces in this guide and 1GB storage all for no charge. Unless you’re sending large attachments regularly, that should be more than enough.

Most Globally Unregulated Private Email Client 🛫

ProtonMail is the only client on this list with no “14 eyes” involvement. They have the least likelihood of being pressured to reveal personal user information for reasons of international intel or emergencies.

“Dark Horse” Private Email Client 🐴

Proteo’s worth mentioning due to its use of crypto as a means of payments. They go even further, with the ability to sign up to a plan via cash sent by mail, leaving you with no digital footprint. It’s the sort of thing a Navy Seal might gravitate to, though you’ll have to pay (no free trial, no free plans).


FAQs 📚

What is PGP? 🗝️

pgpPretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a humorously named encryption protocol used for both sending secure emails and encrypting confidential files. Since its creation almost 30 years ago, PGP has essentially become the benchmark for email security.

Companies rely on PGP for two main reasons. To begin with, the protocol simply got a head-start, with the first version becoming available in 1991 as freeware, and so this caught on quickly with providers wanting special security for inboxes.

The second reason is due to PGP’s use of symmetric encryption as well as public-key encryption. Together, this lets two users who are strangers to send and receive encrypted messages between each other without the need of encryption keys.

What are Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks (and Why Are They So Serious)? 🧟‍♂️

A man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack describes a third unseen party intercepting private exchanges between two or more other parties, basically prying in on traffic with the aim of gleaning sensitive valuable information or editing that traffic in some way without the other parties knowing: the man in the middle.

man-in-the-middle-scheme

It’s a sneaky way for an attacker to get login info or other sensitive private information. They might also spy on the target, redirect funds/attention/effort, or run sabotage campaigns such as modifying data with false elements, removing elements, or simply damaging it beyond recognition.

And although MitM can be warded off with encryption protocols, successful attacks can cause immense damage, such as redirecting traffic to phishing points that look official or to redirect to the proper site after the desired data has been stolen, which makes these sorts of attacks especially hard to detect.

What Are IMAP, SMTP & POP? ⚙️

pop3-vs-imapAll of the above are email protocols that carry out different tasks:

Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) is one standard protocol that receives emails, passing it via a remote server to an email client. POP3 gives you the ability to download and read email messages on your computer even when offline.

Once downloaded to your computer, emails are no longer stored on the email server.

For those who want to use their account on more than one device, this is probably not your ideal choice. But it can free up space on the web server you use. IMAP works like POP3 but assumes that you will be working on multiple devices and even with multiple users. While SMTP is needed if you want to send emails.

What is a Private Email? 👁️

A private email is the web mail system that's provided by a private web server. With a personal email web server, you have your very own electronic mail system. You run it, make use of it, take care of it as well as restrict (block access) to it.

Does Google Sell Off Information to Amazon? 💹

Google runs an extensive information collection commercial infrastructure that's deeply fused right into a lot of its flagship products, specifically the Android OS as well as the Chrome web browser. ... There's still a severe threat although Google does not precisely market private info.

Does Google Share Data With the Government? 🗳️

Yes and no (they don’t admit it outright)... There’s no "back entrance" straight access by the federal government. Their legal team examines every application, they then make a decision.

Their site states that they take the lead in being as transparent as they can (which might not be a lot, considering their size) regarding the federal government requesting individual’s private info.

Bonus Pointer:⭐

You can make your emails more secure by using a high-quality VPN. This creates a protected link between your computer system and the network (the email client). If you have a VPN, let it run when accessing emails (some of those on our list track IPs, which a VPN can eliminate depending on the one you choose).

Related: Best Free VPN


Verdict 💡

Censorship is an ongoing concern in the digital age (see the current censorship stats), rather than the internet being the Promised Land of transparency. There aren’t many email solutions that ensure performance as well as personal privacy. To keep your messages as confidential as you can, you need to make use of any one of the email companies detailed above.

In addition to the 7 listed above, there are a few other safe services that we have not discussed like Fastmail, SAFEmail, and so on, and they are also extremely good at file encryptions.

All these protected email message solutions are better at securing your personal privacy than Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and the other big-name email hosts. End-to-end file encryption will keep your messages private when you send them out.

Click here for ProtonMail - our number one selection for all-around confidentiality without negotiating on critical performance metrics; the sorts of things you’d expect from one of the big-boys like Gmail.

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