Email is inherently one of the most insecure means of communication we have today. However, there are ways to use email in more private and secure methods despite these concerns. Today we’re going to cover four of the best email providers with privacy and security so you can communicate with everyone you know a little bit safer.
A disclaimer, some options on this list will protect and encrypt your emails to external contacts who don’t use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP).
Another disclaimer we did our best to put together options based around privacy and security practices, not necessarily usability, which is a pretty important distinction to make.
Let’s jump to the four email providers with privacy and security.
Four Email Providers with Privacy and Security:
Soverin is a privately held firm headquartered in Amsterdam. They offer private signups to their users, accepting traditional payment methods and bitcoin to make private payment easy.
They allow custom domains and sub addressing with integrated encryption in their webmail, simplifying sending messages to users.
Another neat feature they offer is a free personal webpage that comes with your subscription. Lastly, Soverin supports two-factor authentication.
Soverin does have issues. It’s not open-source, which is discouraging, and there are no mobile apps. It encrypts data at rest, but it’s not zero access, so theoretically, it’s possible for them to access this data.
Then, contacts and calendars do also not end to end encrypted. For TOR users, there’s no onion service.
In summary, it’s not a bad option. You’re going to be better off with Soverin than with something more traditional.
Unless there’s some specific reason you trust or need a feature they offer, most other services on this list will probably perform better for you.
The following service provider on our list is mailbox.org. A german provider is advertising itself as ad-free and running on eco-friendly energy.
There’s no free option, but the pricing is ridiculously cheap at just about a buck a month.
Mailbox supports custom domains, catch-all addresses, and sub addressing. There is no cryptocurrency option, but they accept cash by mail as well as traditional payment methods.
Mailbox allows for encrypting incoming and external mail using their encrypted guard mailbox, which attempts to simplify OpenPGP encryption.
They allow external users to decrypt an email through a mailbox that is nice for users who do not have OpenPGP.
Mailbox supports the discovery of public keys through HTTP and Web Key Directory (WKD). Meaning users outside of mailbox.org can find the open PGP keys of users easily for end-to-end encryption.
They also offer limited cloud storage with your account.
As for cons, most of the service is not open source. They don’t allow the webmail interface through their onion service, and they do not encrypt your contacts and calendar
Third on the list is another german service, Tutanota. Based in Hanover, Tutanota is one of the most popular open-source email clients. Same with Mailbox, Tutanota also powered by renewable energy.
The most beautiful thing about Tutanota is the generous free option, but they implement some excellent security practices outside of that. There’s zero access encryption at rest with email contacts and calendars.
Tutanota is open source, with their app being on F-Droid for those wanting a fast android experience.
They encrypt emails for external users. So people not using the service will need a password to view the contents of the email. You can use up to five aliases and custom domains.
Then, with a free plan, Tutanota would have zero information about you, and it implements fantastic open source security with the option to encrypt emails to external contacts.
Some cons Tutanota is currently limited to its webmail and applications with no supports for external apps.
They do not use PGP, so users can only receive encrypted emails when external users send them through a temporary Tutanota inbox.
They only accept credit cards and Paypal. Suppose you’re going with a paid plan which will add some difficulty in obtaining the account privately. They also do not operate an onion site
The following service is beyond famous, ProtonMail. Based on Switzerland with a generous free plan, like Tutanota, it is beyond simple to create a private account with no personal information.
The rest of this analysis will assume you’re using paid ProtonMail. Still, free includes the same general privacy and security functionality, not the extra features.
ProtonMail allows custom domain catch-all addresses and sub-addressing. They accept bitcoin and traditional payment methods, making it possible to sign up for a paid account pretty privately.
Their data encryption is pretty simple, zero access encryption at rest for your email contacts and calendars. Then, for their email encryption, they have integrated OpenPGP.
Messages to other ProtonMail users are automatically encrypted, and you can enable encryption to non-proton mail users with OpenPGP. Still, by default, it’s just going to be a standard email.
However, like Tutanota and the Mailbox, ProtonMail offers a simple way to encrypt messages to external users without using OpenPGP but rather a password requirement in the email.
ProtonMail allows public key discovery through Web Key Directory (WKD) for end-to-end encryption, and they offer a fully-fledged onion service.
The only one on the list to do that. Outside of ProtonMail, it can also be integrated with Proton VPN and a Proton calendar.
The main con to ProtonMail is honestly probably the price. It’s pricey if you go with one of the more robust options, but they offer a free plan, making this a bit more acceptable if it works for you. But a great price came with great privacy and security.
Those were our top four email recommendations. For your information, all service on the list supports two-factor authentication, and for the record, every service on this list is ad-free.
We highly recommend moving to one of these options to avoid Gmail and other standard providers analyzing everything you type and send without the best possible security in mind.
Take control of the way you communicate, and there’s no excuse as two options on this list have generous free plans, and another only cost a buck a month. Stay Safe!