14 Most Secure Email Providers in 2022 (100% Privacy Protection)
Unless you use a secure email provider, your email is surely not safe from prying eyes. Even in this age of social media, email remains one of the primary means of digital communication all over the world.
But with the all-seeing internet of today, hackers, corporations, and governments can see almost everything you do or post online. You may feel that you have nothing to hide but even if you're not a criminal with a lot to hide, you should still care about your privacy.
By securing your email, you ensure that your data cannot be misused by anyone. And, fortunately, there are plenty of secure email services to provide you with the security you need. So, in this article, we will take a look at 14 of the most secure email providers in 2022. Let's jump right in!
Best Secure Email Providers
Best Overall Secure Email Service.
Started in 2013 by CERN scientists in Switzerland, a country notorious for its privacy-friendliness and neutrality, ProtonMail is an open-source secure email provider that uses end-to-end encryption to secure your communications.
The creation of ProtonMail was precipitated by Edward Snowden's revelations in June of 2013. There are many good reasons why the program makes it to the top of this list. Forbes even labeled it, “The Only Email System The NSA Can’t Access.”
With data centers buried 3000 feet underground (enough to withstand a nuclear attack), this secure email service is designed on the principle of zero knowledge and zero access and has a strict no-logs policy.
In ordinary terms, this means that even ProtonMail’s staff and email servers cannot read or share your emails with anyone if they wanted to.
With ProtonMail, you can send encrypted messages to people who do not use ProtonMail. There’s no desktop app; instead, the system relies on an admittedly clumsy and outdated web client that works on any browser. But there are apps for Android and iOS.
The apps are much more user-friendly and better designed, although they do have fewer settings than the web-based version.
Unfortunately, if you forget your password, that’s it; there’s no recourse or backup for a forgotten password.
But for all its minor flaws (if you can call them that), ProtonMail does a mean job as a secure email service. If you don’t mind the flaws, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better offering on the market. It’s as safe and private as they come and new features are added every day.
ProtonMail’s free plan limits your usage to 150 emails per day and provides 500MB of email storage. Beyond that, there are three pricing plans, beginning with the Plus plan which is priced at €5/month and offers 5GB of space, priority support, tags, custom filtering options, and email aliases, among other features.
The other plans are the Professional plan—which costs €8/month—and the Visionary plan—which costs €30/month. These plans come with features like unlimited messages and folders, ProtonVPN (included for free with the Visionary plan), custom domains, and so on.
- The free plan is generous, offering up to 500MB of free storage and 150 emails per day
- Emails are hosted on your custom domain
- Protected with two-step verification
- All communications are end-to-end encrypted
- Comes with self-destruct functionality for messages
- Android and iOS mobile apps available
- Servers are located in Switzerland, thereby benefiting from Swiss privacy laws and neutrality
- Zero-access construction
- No-logs policy
- Support for contact imports via CSV
- Support for over 20 languages
- Paid plans are a bit pricey
- Cloud storage space offered is limited
- No support for POP3
- The design of the web client is outdated
Best Secure Email Service for Omni Platform Access.
An open-source, end-to-end encrypted, Germany-based secure email service, Tutanota boasts over two million customers and truly values its users’ privacy immensely.
It is one of the best email services around, offering maximum security, and is an easy-to-use platform with high-quality features. It is similar in design and security level to ProtonMail.
Emails are end-to-end encrypted with the AES and RSA encryption standards and the private encryption key cannot be accessed by anyone.
If you’d like to send emails that will need to be decrypted outside the system, all you have to do is set a password on the email. Receivers can respond securely on the same interface.
The web interface is easy to navigate and use. With just a single click, you can make an email private or non-private. But there’s no search function; so, searching for previous emails is impossible.
Tutanota encrypts the subject line and the names of both the sender and receiver. There’s support for two-factor authentication and users can choose whether they want to authenticate with authenticator apps or YubiKey.
As if to demonstrate their seriousness about privacy, Tutanota also deletes IP addresses and emails from the metadata to protect its users, and there’s a strict no-logs policy. But Germany is a part of the Fourteen Eyes Alliance and this fact soils their reputation in a way.
One thing that sets Tutanota apart from ProtonMail is that it is truly an omni-platform provider, offering Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android apps in addition to the standard web client. And syncing among all platforms is easy and seamless.
With Tutanota, the price you pay depends on whether you register for one of the Private plans or one of the Business plans. Both have three sets of plans.
The Private plans include a Free plan, a Premium plan—available at €1/month with annual billing—and a Teams plan—available at €4/month with annual billing.
The only difference between the two paid plans is that the Premium plan gives you 1GB of storage and costs €1 per additional user, while the Teams plan gives you 10GB of storage with the ability to share entire calendars, and costs €2 per additional user.
As for the Business plans, there are the Premium, Teams, and Pro plans priced at €2, €5, and €7 respectively.
- Mobile apps available for Android and iOS
- Does not require a phone number for verification
- Automatically encrypts the entire mailbox and address book
- All parts of every message are automatically encrypted and the IP address deleted
- Supports spam filtering
- No-logs policy
- Supports over 20 languages
- Calendar is encrypted
- No support for PGP and IMAP
- Some advanced features like aliasing and messaging rules are not available on the free plan
- No bulk contact imports
- Service is based in a Fourteen Eyes country
- Extra storage is expensive
Best Secure Email Provider for Customization.
Mailfence is a security-focused email provider headquartered in Belgium. With end-to-end PGP encryption, the service ensures that only you and your recipient can read your email.
Beyond the standard email features, you get a built-in Keystore to manage your OpenPGP encryption keys. You can also send encrypted messages to people who don’t use PGP.
There’s a generous free plan that gives you 500MB of email storage. But with premium accounts, you get the option to use a custom domain name for your emails.
However, Mailfence is not open-source, so its code is not available for inspection. This might undermine its security and confidentiality in the eyes of some users.
And while they do store users’ private encryption keys on their servers, they claim that they cannot read them because the keys are encrypted with each user’s passphrase via AES-256.
Also, encryption measures are treated as optional and not as a must-have feature. So, this service will best serve those people who need convenience first and security second, and this is by design.
There is support for OpenPGP encryption, but you can also opt to use RSA or ECC encryption, too, and those are more than enough in most cases. You can sign your emails digitally as a way to verify a sender’s identity. Plus, there’s support for two-factor authentication.
Another thing that makes this service stand out is its versatility. It comes with a calendar, document storage, and user groups. Even on the free plan, you get customer support and that is very rare.
That said, there is some minor logging (such as IP address logs) that cannot be disabled and, as already mentioned, the service is not open-source, which means you can’t be too sure about what goes on under the hood.
There are four plans that range in price from free to €24/month.
The most important difference between all the plans is the available storage (the free plan offers 500MB for email storage and 500MB for document storage while the highest-tier plan offers 50GB for emails and 70GB for documents) and the number of group collaboration spaces offered.
- Protected with two-factor authentication
- Spam blocker included
- Bulk contact imports via CSV, Outlook, vCard, LDIF, or Gmail
- Supports PGP
- RSA/ECC encryption
- Built-in signatures
- Requires a different email address to receive the authentication key
- Private keys stored on Mailfence servers
- The email encryption code cannot be inspected
- Minimal logging
- Customer support can be improved
4. Zoho Mail
Best Secure Email Provider for B2B Users.
The fact that Zoho Mail is rarely found on lists of the most secure email services has nothing to do with the quality of its service and everything to do with the fact that it is targeted towards business clients. Nonetheless, it’s still a great option for individuals.
Zoho Mail works best when used in conjunction with the other products in the Zoho ecosystem (like Zoho CRM and Zoho Books). But that aside, its well-secured data centers can only be accessed with biometric authentication. Plus, there’s spam and malware protection in addition to the standard end-to-end encryption.
For extra security, there’s support for two-factor authentication and users can choose to use Zoho’s authentication app, Touch ID, QR code, or OTP. If you like, you can also access your mailboxes from other apps through OAuth 2.0.
In addition to the web application, there are apps for your smartphone. The apps are well-designed and good-looking. But if you’re one of the rare few that love Outlook, you’ll be pleased to know that you can use Zoho with any other third-party mail client.
Zoho Mail offers a 15-day free trial. Then, for $1/month, you get IMAP/POP clients, an attachment size limit of 250MB, and multiple domains on the Mail Lite plan. With the Mail Premium plan, you get a file attachment size limit of 1GB, 50GB of storage, email backups, and white labeling for $4/month.
There’s also a free version, although it’s limited to 5GB of storage and a 25MB file attachment size. You’ll also be limited to using the web client to access your email, so no mobile app.
- Well designed UI
- Supports POP/IMAP imports
- Servers are physically secure
- Offers built-in protection against malware
- Better suited to B2B users than individuals
- Some data centers are located in the US and China
A Little-known Secure Email Provider with an Excellent Feature Set.
Thexyz is a relatively little-known Canada-based secure email service with over 40,000 accounts created since its launch. But the fact that it’s not as popular as most of the other providers on this list doesn’t mean that it’s less secure or anything like that.
Thexyz could be one of the safest secure email services for you as it’s an ad-free service that is focused on ensuring the privacy and security of your emails. On the platform, there are many filters to limit the amount of spam you get.
But one cause for concern is that, though they use some European data centers, most of their data centers are based in the US. Their main locations—as shown on their website—include Montreal, Chicago, London, and Sydney. This is something to take note of if you’re privacy-conscious as most of the locations are in Five Eyes countries.
That said, there are many security measures in place to even out the drawbacks of Thexyz’s less-than-ideal locations. Emails support all encrypted ports and your IP address isn’t displayed with sent emails. There’s support for IMAP, POP, and OpenPGP end-to-end encryption, and you can configure it with Mailvelope.
While in transit, your emails are protected with SSL/TLS so that no one can intercept or alter the contents of your email. And your login is protected with two-factor authentication.
There’s also an easy data migration tool that makes it easy to try the tool without having to deal with the tedium of moving data manually from one mailbox to the other.
The migration tool works with Gmail, Office 365, and many other services. It also migrates your calendar, contacts, and notes. So, Thexyz is a full-fledged email solution that can be useful even in a business setting.
But there is no free plan, which is a bit of a bummer. The cheapest paid plan offers 25GB of storage and a 50MB limit on the size of attachments, and there are more expensive plans with more options.
Pricing starts at $2.95/month for 25GB of storage and unlimited aliases. On the higher end, prices reach $9.95/month and features include data retention compliance, unlimited email archive storage, and easy email imports and exports in several formats.
- Offers several spam filters
- Supports IMAP, POP, and OpenPGP
- Tools for GMigration available
- Comes with two-factor authentication
- Apps available for iOS and Android
- File attachment size is limited to 50MB
- Based in a Five Eyes country
- No free plan
Best Secure Email Service for Desktop-Only Users.
StartMail is a Netherlands-based secure email service. The name may sound unfamiliar, but you may also have heard about its other project, startpage.com, which is a search engine that does not track any of your data. StartMail takes the same approach to your email privacy.
It fully supports PGP, allowing you to communicate securely with other PGP users. There’s also two-factor authentication that will make it near-impossible for anyone to break into your email even if they somehow get your password.
Another great thing about StartMail is that it makes the creation of burner emails super easy. In other words, adding additional email aliases is quick and easy; so, you can quickly create a throwaway email address for those times when you need to quickly register for something that requires your email.
There’s IMAP and SMTP support, but there’s no mobile app. StartMail has no free plan, but you do get a 30-day free trial with a limit of five emails per day and 10GB of encrypted cloud storage.
Although there’s no free plan with this provider, you do get a 30-day free trial. There are two plans. The Personal Account is currently available for $35.99 per year (only for your first year, after which the price returns to $59.95) and the Business Account is priced at $59.95 per year.
- Support for PGP encryption in one click
- Send encrypted emails to anyone
- Supports two-factor authentication
- Supports multiple aliases
- Supports IMAP and SMTP
- GDPR compliant
- Obscures IP addresses and hostnames
- Qualys SSL Rating: A + with HSTS and PFS
- Offers 10GB of encrypted cloud storage
- No free plan
- Although there’s encryption, it isn’t end-to-end
- The trial version is severely limited
- Not fully open-source
- The Netherlands’ new privacy laws might cause some privacy issues in the future
Best Secure Email Service for Security.
Started in 2008 and based in Sweden, CounterMail’s website may be off-putting but don’t let that deceive you; this provider is surely one of the most secure email services there is, period. Its security-first approach might just make it one of the most secure providers out there.
It uses industry-standard PGP encryption, but it goes the extra mile by using RAM-only servers so that nothing can be stored. There’s also robust protection against man-in-the-middle attacks, with AES and RSA algorithms next to the SSL layer.
There’s support for two-factor authentication, with the choice to use either a time-based one-time password with a third-party authenticator app or a USB key.
Worthy of note, however, is that Sweden, where CounterMail is based, is a Fourteen Eyes country. Aside from this fact, this provider does more to ensure your security and privacy than most other providers.
CounterMail gives you the option to pay anonymously and gives you access to a password-protected Safebox to store and manage your passwords, for example.
You can use the service as a web application or via third-party email apps on Android, iOS, and other IMAP/SMTP clients. The interface of the web app is decidedly unappealing, but there are plenty of customization options.
There’s a 7-day free trial, but it’s severely limited, offering only 3MB for file attachments and the ability to send and receive emails from only secure email and VPN users. You also won’t be able to use the service on a third-party client with the free plan.
With CounterMail, a premium account is a premium account; so, you get all the features with any of the premium accounts. The only difference between the plans is the contract length. There’s a 6-month plan for $29, a 12-month plan for $49, and a 24-month plan for $79.
All plans include 4GB of encrypted storage for emails with the option to purchase extra storage at a one-off cost. Pricing for extra storage ranges from $19 for 250MB to $89 for 1750MB.
Extra storage is expensive because CounterMail applies a bunch of extra security measures to ensure your safety, and these use significantly more CPU and storage resources.
If you’d like to use a custom domain name, you can buy the domain option for $15.
- Payments can be made anonymously
- Uses RAM-only servers
- Offers protection against MITM attacks
- Support for IMAP
- No IP address logging
- Comes with a built-in password manager called Safebox
- Comes with a message filter and autoresponder features
- Does not allow you to send encrypted emails to non-users
- Limited free trial with only 3MB of storage for 7 days
- Belgium is a Fourteen Eyes country
- No support for POP3
- No free version
Best Value Secure Email Service.
Posteo is a Germany-based secure email service provider that serves both businesses and individuals alike. To protect your email while in transit, it adopts several protocols such as TLS with Perfect Forward Secrecy, HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), SSH, and many others.
While encryption isn’t enabled by default, you can set it up easily using the Mailvelope app. It’s open-source, which means that it’s verified or at least easily verifiable. And you can add PGP, which is the industry standard for email security, provided that both parties use it.
There are also a few features that you may not see on most other providers. For example, there’s support for POP, SMTP, and IMAP protocols; you usually don’t see support for all three protocols with most providers. This means that you can use an app that you’re already comfortable with to view your emails.
For added safety, you can encrypt your mailbox. But lose your password and you’re on your own. There’s no recourse and not even customer support can help you recover your data; it’s lost forever. To prove this, Posteo has been audited by Cure53, a leading cybersecurity firm.
On the downside, there are no mobile or desktop apps for Posteo, which means you’re limited to using the web client to access your email. There’s also no live chat or ticket system for customer support. And there’s no free version.
There’s no free account but Posteo is basically a steal at €1/month. This plan gives you 2GB of email storage and if you need more storage, you can pay €0.25 for each extra gigabyte you use up to a 20GB limit.
- Uses OpenPGP encryption
- Ultra affordable
- The service is audited by Cure53
- The platform is highly customizable
- Supports POP, IMAP, and SMTP imports
- Encrypts everything, including the subject line, headers, body, metadata, and attachments
- Completely open-source
- Payments can be made anonymously
- No logging
- Daily backups
- No spam folder
- No mobile apps
- Customer support is limited
Best Secure Email Service for Those Who Need More Than Email.
Another Germany-based provider, Mailbox.org is a privately funded secure email service. From the very start, the respect for your privacy is evident as it will only request your recovery email or phone number after your account has been created. And even this isn’t mandatory.
With this service, you can send normal or encrypted emails. Encrypted emails take some time to set up, but they’re truly worth it because Mailbox.org uses PGP encryption. Even regular emails are protected with SSL/TLS with Perfect Forward Secrecy.
You can configure your mailbox to prevent you from sending emails to insecure inboxes. The service is fully compatible with Mailvelope which is useful for storing your encryption keys locally for added protection.
A lot of work has gone into making Mailbox.org a complete suite as it includes such features as a text editor and cloud storage for files. It’s almost like a more secure Google Suite alternative.
Pricing is simple. The Light plan is available for only €1/user/month and prices go up to €9/user/month on the Premium plan. There’s a 30-day free trial for all plans, and you only get custom domains on the Standard and Premium plans.
- OpenPGP encryption
- Compatible with Mailvelope
- Cloud-based storage
- SSL/TLS with PFS
- Simple and easy-to-use interface
- 30-day free trial
- Ad-free and secure
- Useful add-ons available
- No mobile apps
- No encryption for email metadata
A Secure Email Service Run Sustainably on Renewable Energy.
Norway may not be a privacy haven like Panama, for example, but it does have strong privacy and consumer protection laws to protect personal data. And that’s where Runbox is located.
However, this doesn’t mean that Norway is out of the reach of determined governments; after all, it’s part of the so-called 14-Eyes intelligence alliance, which might be something to be concerned about.
Runbox is packed with a variety of great features. First, there’s TLS/SSL and support for SMTP, POP, and IMAP. The platform doesn’t require any personal details when signing up and it removes your IP address from sent emails.
Plus, there is two-factor authentication and IP address whitelisting if you ever need to restrict access to your mailbox for any reason. On the privacy side, Runbox doesn’t run any invasive scripts or display any ads. It does not store any details about your traffic, and it verifies website links via SSL security certificates.
It’s a perfect alternative to Fastmail, being quite similar, and is a service that you can truly feel safe using.
There’s no free plan with Runbox, but there’s a one-month long free trial and a 60-day money-back guarantee. This should be more than enough for anyone to try the system and decide if it’s for them.
The service is quite affordable, with prices starting at $1.66/month for the Micro plan that gives you 2GB of storage and 100 email aliases but no custom domain. If you need them, you can create additional accounts for $0.66/month each.
The most expensive plan is the Max plan, available at $6.66/month and equipped with 50GB of storage, 25 email domains, and 100 email aliases. Each additional account costs $2.91/month.
- Accepts payment in cryptocurrencies
- Supports IMAP, SMTP, and POP
- No ads
- Well designed and intuitive UI
- Run entirely on renewable hydroelectric energy
- Provides up to 100 email aliases
- Provides up to 50GB of email storage space
- Generous free trial and money-back guarantee
- No free plan
- End-to-end encryption isn’t native
- Norway is a 14-Eyes country
An Uncomplicated Secure Email Service for Small Businesses and Healthcare & Legal Practitioners.
This Canada-based provider has been offering secure email for over 20 years. It uses industry-standard encryption technologies like OpenPGP and TLA/SSSL and focuses on serving the medical and legal industries and small businesses.
Customers can contact you and send you files securely via Hush Secure Forms. This is useful for healthcare companies that often require clients to fill out questionnaires before scheduling visits or to help doctors diagnose a medical issue.
You can send encrypted emails to people who don’t use Hushmail. To allow this, Hushmail doesn’t send the recipient the email directly. Instead, it sends them a link to Hushmail to log in to securely view the message.
Hushmail’s UI is straightforward. You get options for creating email folders, setting up automatic responses, blocking senders, creating email aliases, and setting up two-factor authentication. There’s also support for IMAP, POP, and SMTP so you can use your favorite email client.
Hushmail uses zero-knowledge architecture, which means that it cannot decrypt your emails without your password, and your password is hashed.
On the downside, since Hushail uses OpenPGP encryption, it cannot encrypt the recipients and subject lines of emails. But it’s a strong encryption protocol for the body of your messages.
Also, Hushmail is not exactly a no-logging service as it does keep logs of the IP addresses of visitors to the site and logs your IP address, email, credit card information, and billing address when you make payments, even transferring this information to some third parties.
Even actions as simple as reading an email or moving one creates a log and records are kept for up to 18 months at a time. And Hushmail will disclose your data in an unencrypted form to governments if it receives a court order under the laws of British Columbia, Canada.
There’s a 14-day free trial for all plans and they don’t require your credit card information. The service costs $9.99/month for legal and healthcare users. $5.99/month for small businesses, and $49.98/year for personal use.
- Supports POP and IMAP
- Provides two-step verification, although it’s optional
- Comes with a spam filter and autoresponder
- Comes with 10GB of storage
- Supports encrypted communication with non-users
- Requires a different email address and phone number during registration
- No Android app
Best Free Secure Email Provider.
Still in its beta testing phase, Criptext is free (for personal use) and open-source, offering applications for Android, macOS, iOS, and Windows devices. It began simply as an encryption extension for Gmail, allowing users to better secure their email.
Criptext does not store your data on its servers, which means that you’re in no danger of any data breaches; instead, your emails are stored n your device. Only you and your recipient can read your emails as they are locked with a unique key that is stored on your device alone.
Every email you send is encrypted by default; there’s no way to opt-out of encryption. If you send an email to a non-user, the recipient will have to enter a passphrase that you set to gain access to the message. Recipients have 10 days to retrieve the message or it will be lost.
Finally, you have the option to auto-lock your account, and you can specify a time frame after which this happens automatically. And if you forget your pin or someone tries to get into your account without your knowledge, Criptext will erase all the data from your device after 10 tries.
Pricing is simple. Criptext is free for personal use and it charges business users $15/month for the first 10 users and $5/month for each additional user. That’s it.
- Completely free for personal use
- Completely ad-free
- Send emails to people who don’t use the service
- Comes with a handy unsend email feature
- Cannot be used on Windows Mail or Outlook
- Stores certain pieces of information such as your name, approved devices, primary and recovery email addresses, approved devices, and your last active date
A Pioneering Secure Email Service.
Fastmail is based in Australia but has offices in the US, too. Everything is encrypted with Fastmail, from the way you access your account to sending and storing emails, as well as everything in between.
The vendors do not cooperate with or take part in any government surveillance program. And if they are approached by the authorities to provide any kind of information, they will be transparent with the user and inform them accordingly.
That said, you should be aware that Australia is a part of the Five Eyes Surveillance agreement.
Fastmail is not free but it is affordable, offering plans that range in price from $3/user/month to $9/user/month for up to 100GB of storage. There’s a 30-day free trial so you can get a feel for the service before committing your hard-earned cash.
- Supports IMAP
- Completely transparent with no hidden or complicated policies
- The interface is simple and easy-to-use
- One of the oldest secure email services still on the market
- No free plan
14. Librem Mail
A Complete Digital Security and Secure Communication Suite.
Librem is a suite of digital security and secure communication tools that includes Librem Mail, a secure, end-to-end encrypted email service. It uses K-9 Mail and OpenKeyChain which simplify how you use encrypted mail. With Librem Mail, you can exchange emails with anyone who uses OpenPGP email encryption.
There’s a free plan and two premium packages but the free plan does not give you access to Librem Mail as it only offers social and chat services to users. The paid plan costs $7.99/month for a single user or $14.99/month for the Family pack which gives you up to five users.
- A suite of solutions for all your online communications and digital security
- Comes with a built-in VPN
- No user tracking
- Decentralized architecture
- Librem Mail is not available for iPhone users yet
Features to Look For in a Secure Email Service
Just as there are plenty of good options when it comes to secure email, there are also plenty of bad ones that are nowhere near secure. To avoid falling victim to these scams, there are a few features and factors to look out for in every provider you consider.
Without end-to-end encryption, there can be no secure email, period. With regular email services, your message is encrypted with TLS (Transport Layer Security) until it gets to the recipient. As soon as it hits their inbox, your email provider can see it.
And that’s assuming the receiver’s provider supports TLS; if it doesn’t your email remains unprotected in transit and can be intercepted. This is true for Gmail, Hotmail, and any other regular email provider.
But with end-to-end encryption, only the sender and receiver can see the message’s contents at all times. The most common end-to-end encryption protocol for emails is PGP (short for Pretty Good Privacy) encryption.
Two-factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication acts as a second layer of defense in case someone somehow learns your password. By sending a code to or requiring some action from a gadget that only you have access to, the system makes it much harder for anyone to break into your email—that is, unless they somehow get to your smartphone.
There are many approaches to 2FA, from SMS to voice calls to authentication apps by Google and other third parties.
Every message you send contains some metadata about you, including such information as your device, web browser, and the name of the recipient.
If you’re concerned about your privacy, this is information you won’t want anyone laying hold of as it could help them trace anything back to you. A secure email service will strip email messages of this metadata.
While this may not exactly be a deal-breaker, it makes sense to pay attention to it. Not all countries are privacy-friendly; for example, the US, UK, Canada, and Australia are part of the Five Eyes intelligence network, which means that they share intelligence and information.
Some countries have data-retention laws that mandate providers to store your information for a certain length of time. All of these are terrible places to register a secure email service.
As for other features, they are largely optional and depend on personal preference and needs.
How Does Secure Email Work?
As explained, the backbone of any secure email service is end-to-end encryption. The most common choices for email encryption are PGP and S/MIME.
PGP uses both symmetric and asymmetric encryption while S/MIME uses certificates that are signed by either a local or public certificate authority. By using a certificate, the provider ensures that you are the true sender of the message and that it has not been tampered with.
With encryption in place, no one, not even governments or high-powered hackers, can see your messages or metadata.
Transport-level encryption ensures that your message travels safely through the web without being intercepted. But this is not enough security for your emails as the provider can see the contents of your messages as soon as they arrive at its servers.
TLS was built to succeed SSL (although that is still used) and is implemented on top of TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). It’s used this way to encrypt not just email protocols, but also other protocols (HTTP, FTP, etc).
Even then, it still isn’t used by all email services. And unfortunately, there’s no simple way to know if your provider offers TLS or not. It’s not like SSL that displays a lock icon in the address bar to show that a website is secure.
The goal of end-to-end encryption is to ensure that only your recipient and no third party, even your mail provider, can decrypt your message. Only you and the recipient have the keys to opening your encrypted messages. You encrypt the message with the recipient’s public key; then, it can only be opened with their private key.
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) Encryption
PGP encryption combines symmetric encryption, public-key encryption, and hashing without requiring users to exchange private keys. The service does everything behind the scenes so you don’t have to deal with any of the details.
After PGP generates a session key, the recipient’s public key encrypts it. The sender then sends the encrypted session key to the recipient, who will decrypt it with their private key and use it to read the message.
Why Use a Secure Email Service?
There are many good reasons to use secure email services and we’ve touched upon many of them throughout this post. But if you’re still not sure, here are a few reasons to consider:
- Protect your messages: Gmail and other non-secure providers can read your messages as soon as they hit their servers, and so can hackers, too. This is because your messages are only encrypted until they reach the provider’s servers.
- Hide your metadata: Even if your regular email provider encrypts your email messages, it does not mean that your metadata is automatically hidden. Often, information such as your and the recipient’s email address, browser, network, and device type, make & model is still visible.
- Avoid being a product: Free is usually too good to be true, and email is no different. If you’re using a free email service, chances are high that you’re the product. Gmail actively scans your emails for keywords that it then uses to chow you highly targeted, personalized ads. In essence, using Gmail grants Google the right to make money with your data.
- Store your messages in a location that respects your privacy: If your email provider’s servers are located in either the US or any Fourteen Eyes country, they may one day decide to look at your inbox and it will be so much easier for them than if the servers were located in a privacy haven like Switzerland.
At the end of the day, remember that the weakest link in your email security will always be your password. All of these security measures and protocols would be useless if someone can crack your password easily. That’s why we recommend using a password generator to generate strong random passwords that are difficult to crack.
Need Extra Protection? Use a VPN
There are several pieces to the jigsaw puzzle that is complete internet security. And of these pieces, a VPN is probably the most vital.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a private network that encrypts and transmits data while it travels from one place to another on the internet. It offers the maximum level of protection possible by changing your IP address. This means that you can join a network without physically being in it.
For the best results, go with one of these providers:
- Express VPN: This just might be the best overall VPN, providing top-notch security features and an unrivaled ability to unblock streaming content. You can test-drive the service risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee.
- NordVPN: This is arguably the best-known brand in the VPN industry and you’ve probably heard of it. It truly deserves its fame as it delivers an extremely secure premium service. And it’s great value too as it is priced at just $3.30/month and gives you three months free.
- Surfshark: Surfshark offers a premium service that exceeds its price and is probably the best value offering on the market. For just $2.49/month, you get intuitive apps across all platforms and unlimited connections to cover all your devices.
- Hotspot Shield: This is a premium package that gives you access to over 1,800 servers in over 80 countries, 24/7 support, absolutely no ads, and support for up to five devices at once.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gmail offers some protection in that email transfers are encrypted at the network level with TLS (Transport Layer Security). It only works if the receiver’s provider supports TLS and even then, the contents of your messages will be visible to Google once the email arrives in the inbox.
With email, security is important as it is often used to send confidential information. And since email hasn’t changed much since its advent, there are many ways it could be spoofed or read by unscrupulous parties.
Your reputation could be jeopardized as every email sent by the hacker from your account will be seen as having been sent by you. This can be especially problematic if combined with requests for money.
Also, since almost all your online accounts rely on email, taking over your email gives them access to almost all of your online presence and identity.
The short and sweet answer is a resounding yes. End-to-end encryption is the key to email security. And ProtonMail offers end-to-end encryption while Gmail doesn’t.
ProtonMail is as secure as email gets. But due to how web systems work and the nature of email, ProtonMail can monitor the IP address from which you access its service. This could potentially be used to identify you. However, since it’s a Switzerland-based service, you’re well protected by iron-clad privacy laws. And if you use a VPN, ProtonMail can only track the IP address assigned to you by the VPN provider, not your actual IP address.
Which is the Most Secure Email Provider?
So, we’ve explored the top 14 secure email providers and looked at their pros and cons. But which one should you choose? These are our recommendations:
- ProtonMail is hands-down the best overall secure email provider.
- Tutanota is the perfect alternative to ProtonMail, and also offers omni-platform access, too.
- For B2B users already invested in the Zoho Office suite, Zoho Mail is a great option.
- For the best value, check out Posteo.
- If you need more than email, Mailbox.org is your best bet.
And if you’re looking for a free service for personal use, check out Criptext.com.
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