Email plays a vital role in how we communicate online. If you’ve decided to make privacy a priority by using alternatives to mainstream products on the internet, your email is another weak link you could likely improve on.
Generally private email services use encryption to keep the contents of your emails hidden from anyone besides your intended recipient. These emails will keep your communications more private than the more popular email services like Gmail or Outlook. You could set up your own email server with added privacy protections, but it’s a time consuming and often expensive process that in the end may not deliver the privacy you’re looking for.
Recommended Private Email Services
CounterMail: CounterMail is a secure email provider specifically designed for maximum security and privacy, in a simple and easy to use format. It uses OpenPGP to keep the contents of your emails encrypted and private. CounterMail adds specific protection for MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks beyond just SSL encryption. If you are computer-savvy enough to use Gmail or Hotmail, you should be able to use CounterMail without many issues.
Cost: $49+ per year
FastMail: FastMail is an email service offering paid email accounts for individuals and organisations. It is provided in 36 languages to customers worldwide. For a short time FastMail was owned by Opera Software (owner of Opera web browser), but has since been bought out by its employees. FastMail lets users choose from 113 domains.
Cost: $30+ per year
Hushmail: Hushmail offers encrypted, private email tailored to enterprise use for healthcare and legal professionals. It began providing secure webmail solutions in 1999, so it’s one of the longest running encrypted email services. Users can choose to send emails in encrypted or unencrypted form. For emails sent to other Hushmail users, they will be encrypted by default. Non-users can view emails on a secure webpage.
Hushmail has receieved many legal requests for email contents over the years. Fortunately, it encrypts the contents of your emails so there isn’t as much risk involved. Other private email providers who are less established may fall apart after a single legal request for information and delete all the contents of your emails. It’s important to consider this aspect, especially if you’re using your email account for important communications.
Cost: $49.98 per year
Jumble: Jumble is designed to integrate with your existing Gmail account, while providing additional privacy. Because Jumble doesn’t host your emails, it cannot access the contents of your messages. Everything Jumble can see is in encrypted form. It keeps your messages encrypted unless it’s being viewed by the sender or recipient. Keep in mind that because you’re still using Gmail, Google may still be able to access data about the emails you send and receive.
Cost: Free for Personal Plan, $60 per year for Business Basic plan
Kolab: Kolab offers secure collaboration and email accounts. All data is stored in Switzerland, and falls under Swiss privacy laws.There are no advertisements on the platform. Kolab offers seamless support for a range of other email clients. It also offers support for calendar, address books, tasks and file storage.
Cost: $50+ per year
Mailfence: Mailfence is an encrypted email service that uses OpenPGP encryption and digital signatures. It is available in a free form with limited storage capacity. Paid plans are also available for those looking for more features and storage. You can also find a mobile version here. If you currently use Ymail, Gmail or Hotmail, you can import your account into Mailfence for more privacy.
Posteo: Posteo is a privacy-focused email provider based in Berlin. According to its website Posteo wants “to provide an impetus for greater security, privacy and sustainability on the internet.” It delivers built-in encryption, and falls under Europe’s data privacy laws. Another positive sign from Posteo is the fact that they publish transparency reports, so there is clarity into how their product works.
Posteo uses multiple levels of encryption to keep the content of your emails encrypted and private. It uses HTTPS encryption for your connection to Posteo, then it uses one-time passwords for added protection, and encrypts all the contents of your emails. Beyond email encryption, Posteo offers hard disk encryption and address book and calendar encryption.
Cost: $12+ per year
ProtonMail: ProtonMail is an encrypted email service that was founded in 2014. It uses end-to-end encryption so emails remain in encrypted form from the user’s computer to ProtonMail’s servers. In January of 2017, ProtonMail had over 2 million users. ProtonMail is based in Switzerland, which has notoriously strong privacy laws, including the Swiss Federal Data Protection Act.
ProtonMail is open source, so it’s a good choice if that is an important factor for you. Another positive aspect of ProtonMail is its newly redesigned inbox, which makes navigating your emails much easier.
StartMail: StartMail uses Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption, which is a standard for email encryption technology. This email provider doesn’t use any tracking cookies or ads, as their business model doesn’t rely on tracking or ads to make money. StartMail allows users total control over their data and under GDPR let’s users request any information that StartMail may store about them.
StartMail is run by the same company that runs StartPage, the private search engine. If you’re concerned with communicating with prvivacy from unwanted intrusion or surveillance, this service is a very reliable choice.
Cost: $59.95 per year
Tutanota: Tutanota is an open-source end-to-end encrypted email software and freemium hosted secure email service. Its business model excludes earning money through advertisement relying solely on donations and Premium subscriptions. As of March 2017, Tutanota had over 2 million users. Tutanota lets you send encrypted emails to people using any email provider with password protected contents, making it a good choice if you want to communicate securely with Gmail users, for example.
Tutanota’s co-founder, Matthias Pfau told FreedomHacker.net that what sets Tutanota apart is:
- Tutanota encrypts all data on the users device (end-to-end encryption)
- Tutanota never stores unencrypted data on their servers, everything from mail to contacts is always encrypted
- Tutanota makes encryption easy-to-use as key generation and key exchange is easily done in the background
- Tutanota never uses the private keys of their users server-side
Cost: $12+ per year
Unspyable: Unspyable offers “offshore secure email” accounts designed to maximize your privacy and email security. It uses encrypted servers and DDoS protection to keep the data on their servers secure. Unspyable combines its VPN with its email service so that the email traffic on your network can’t be linked back to your location.
Cost: $100 per year (includes VPN service)
Why Email Privacy Is So Important
Email privacy is vital to an all-encompassing effort to protect your privacy online. While there are many communication methods that have somewhat replaced email on the modern web, most people still have and use at least one email account. Most businesses rely on email for account setup and verification. This means that information about your banking, healthcare and other accounts is stored within your email account.
By protecting your emails and their contents, you can prevent unwanted access to your other accounts on the internet. If your email account is compromised a hacker can use it for two-factor authorization and even to change your passwords for your internet accounts.
Want to know more about private email services and which one is right for you? Visit That One Privacy Site.