We all use email daily for our personal and professional communications. You may or may not know that NSA and Secret intelligence agencies can spy on your emails. Major email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo which are based in america are not even immune to spying. ProtonMail review is my experience with the new secure email service.
Your emails are no more secured
The first question that may come to your mind – ” Why should I bother for a encrypted email service when I’ve got world class feature rich email services like google and yahoo providing gigabytes of space of cloud storage and communication at a speed of light with world class security both at server and client levels “.
No doubt Gmail, Yahoo, others are great in what they offer. They come under US jurisdiction and NSA also is under US jurisdiction. The surveillance programs of the US govt. like Prism renders a vast amount of power to NSA to spy, record and save anyone’s data in almost any country with some exceptions.
Those programs were designed to mitigate any terrorist event about to happen in near future by intercepting telephone calls, emails, communications via internet or other channels of communication. But that didn’t stopped them from mass spying on private and personal data’s from various servers around the world. The Snowden event is a well known phenomena for unmasking the NSA and shedding light on its unethical activities.
Now, you will never want your personal messages, photo’s, video’s, documents to be intercepted and spied up, even if that meant for some anti-terrorist surveillance.
Imagine how devastating spying would be for professional communications which contains very sensitive informations and transactions.
Why is encrypted email required ?
EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has put up a great in-depth article on this topic which you may like to have a look. Here are some 13 ways the NSA spies on you . Encrypted email will provide you facility of encryption of your e-mail content and the attached files which can only be decrypted by the receiver. Even if a man in the middle (MITM) attack occurs or your communications are intercepted and recorded by anyone, they won’t be able to decrypt your data ever. Cryptography practitioners reading this will laugh, as they know any decryption is crackable, but in this case anyone trying to decrypt your email communications have to spend hundreds of years to crack or decrypt the message or has to invest millions in creating supercomputer’s to work on decryption. These is the only major feature which separates protonmail from the reset
Introduction to Proton Mail
Proton mail was found by 3 CERN scientist, now headquartered in geneva, switzerland with a satellite office by the MIT campus and they are advised by MIT Venture Mentoring Service.
Some of the very solid features of ProtonMail are :
- ProtonMail is incorporated in Switzerland – and are protected by the Swiss Federal Data Protection Act (DPA) and the Swiss Federal Data Protection Ordinance (DPO) which offers some of the strongest privacy protection in the world for both individuals and entities. Only a court order from the Cantonal Court of Geneva or the Swiss Federal Supreme Court can compel them to release the extremely limited user information they have.
- No tracking or logging of personally identifiable information – they do not log user activity. They do not save any metadata such as the IPs used to connect to accounts. They also have no way to scan encrypted messages to serve targeted advertisements. To protect user privacy, ProtonMail does not require any personally identifiable information to register.
Some of the security feature’s they provide which are unique and forms the backbone of the security and encryption of ProtonMail are :-
Top security features of ProtonMail review are :-
#1 – Zero Access to User Data
- Proton Mail’s segregated authentication and decryption system means logging into a ProtonMail account that requires two passwords. The first password is used to authenticate the user and retrieve the correct account. After that, encrypted data is sent to the user. The second password is a decryption password which is never sent to them. It is used to decrypt the user’s data in the browser so they do not have access to the decrypted data, or the decryption password.
- For this reason, They will be unable to do password recovery. If you forget your decryption password, we cannot recover your data.
#2 – End-to-End Encryption
Messages are stored on ProtonMail servers in encrypted format. They are also transmitted in encrypted format between our server and users’ browsers. Messages between ProtonMail users are transmitted in encrypted form within our protected server network.
This feature is also being implemented by major email communication provider’s like Gmail. Google has taken a commendable step with introducing end-to-end encryptions for Gmail.
#3 – Securely communicate with other email providers
ProtonMail supports sending encrypted communication to non-ProtonMail users via symmetric encryption. When you send an encrypted message to a non-ProtonMail user, they receive a link which loads the encrypted message onto their browser which they can decrypt using a decryption passphrase that you have shared with them. You can also send unencrypted messages to Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook and others, just like regular email.
#4 – Self Destructing Messages
Self destruct message’a are the message’s with a expiry date attached. After the expiry date, the email or the message wont be available anymore for anyone to retrieve ever. This works for both emails sent to other ProtonMail users, and encrypted emails sent to outside email addresses.
#5 – Time-tested and trusted encryption algorithms
ProtonMail uses AES, RSA, along with OpenPGP opensource algorithms for encryption. First benefit is that these algorithms are time tested for their strength and are dependable. Second is that a vast community of security researchers, scientist’s work on improvising these algorithm’s since these are used by many major Govt. institutions, Corporates, Organizations across the globe.
#6 – Full disk encryption and storage in secured data centers
Optimum data center security for theft and disaster, with hardware level encryption which includes using encrypted drives, with multilayer of passwords which provides a solid prevention against the real data being retrieved even if they were seized. And to push the security to another level, they have declared On an organizational level, no single individual possesses all access passwords to minimize the risk of human security compromises.
My Experience with ProtonMail
An invite is required to register with ProtonMail. Once you are invited, you’ll get to register as usual but with a twist, you’ll need to set up two passwords. One is for your account another is for your mailbox. This gives another layer of security. And as they say if you forget the second password there is no way to retrieve or reset it. Anyway you can always change your passwords.
The user interface is pretty minimalist and is responsive (adapts to any device width). You’ll be getting 500MB of storage space for all your emails. You’ll get address book to add your email addresses.
When communicating with 3rd party email services like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. you’ll get a email with link to the encrypted message and the receiver will require the password set by the sender to decrypt the message.
After decryption the message looks something like this –
That’s is great and looks very secure. I’m impressed by its encryption and other security features.
ProtonMail can be truly be said as successor of lavabit . I wish they do not face the same fate as lavabit and stay immune to NSA spying and other govt. interception, surveillance programs. With service’s like ProtonMail can be easily be used by anti social groups in a unethical way, and which may result in forcing ProtonMail founders to disclose personal account data’s to govt, time will tell, how much harder ProtonMail can cling on to its own solid security foundations it is proud of.
Have you got any points to add speak up in the comments below.