Email providers, in general, are not too focused on enforcing the security and privacy of our emails.
Gmail is implementing the use of TLS encryption, but this is the bare minimum level of protection. Even iCloud Mail, though more secure than Gmail, has been proven to have leaked.
We have to take control if we want our emails safe. So what are the seven best secure encrypted email providers?
The five best services that will provide you with a new secure and encrypted email address are:
Or, if you prefer to secure your existing email account, the two best options for personal email addresses are:
- Virtru for Gmail
We need to look for an email provider that will do more than only secure our emails while they are being sent to the server. Thus leaving them in plain text once they arrive.
We want a solution that will end-to-end encrypt the emails. Only to be decrypted once the intended recipient opens the email.
That’s why we have to examine and study the features of these secure and encrypted email providers.
1. ProtonMail – Well Known, Proven, And Respected Email Encryption Platform
ProtonMail comes from Switzerland. It provides an open-source encrypted email service that runs on Android and iOS apps or the ProtonMail website.
It’s a name that’s become synonymous with secure email. It is de facto the default go-to for most people who want to send secure, encrypted emails.
The personal ProtonMail service will give you a new @protonmail.com email address.
ProtonMail’s encryption offers solid protection that’s as unbreakable as possible. Not even ProtonMail’s employees, governments, or hackers, can access your emails on the ProtonMail platform.
Everything is secured using two-factor authentication and a double login system. One password gives you access to ProtonMail, and the other is used to decrypt your mailbox.
Until recently, ProtonMail did not support IMAP or POP. They have since added the Proton Bridge for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This allows you to add your ProtonMail account to a native email client, like Outlook.
This bridge encrypts the emails you send before leaving your device and accessing the internet, which is a huge benefit. However, this is only available to paid ProtonMail users.
ProtonMail offers a free package, limited to 500MB of email storage and 150 messages per day. You can also opt for two paid subscriptions that allow more storage space and more daily messages.
The free option should be sufficient for someone who doesn’t send or receive large attachments (or deletes mail often) and doesn’t mind using webmail or the ProtonMail app.
2. CounterMail – Extra Security But Limited Space
CounterMail is becoming one of ProtonMail’s biggest competitors. Based in Sweden, CounterMail includes all the same security standards as ProtonMail with some added features.
Despite how 1990s its website looks, CounterMail offers some serious extra security in the form of an optional hardware encryption key.
You can configure a flash drive to store your encryption key, and CounterMail won’t let you log in without that drive attached.
This means that hackers can’t gain access to your email even if they manage to steal your password. This is a great benefit.
CounterMail has minimal storage space, though, with only 100MB for free users and up to 4GB for premium users, much lower than ProtonMail’s 500MB / 5GB offering.
Their free package is also only a limited 7-day trial, after which you have to become a premium user to continue using the service. But it is pretty affordable, costing as little as ±US$3.50 per month.
CounterMail includes IMAP support and a powerful encrypted password manager called Safebox.
But on the negative side, CounterMail does not allow you to send encrypted mail to non-CounterMail users.
It could cause a severe data leak if your emails are encrypted, but the recipient’s emails aren’t. Apart from that, CounterMail is a reliable and effective encrypted email provider.
3. Hushmail – Mature Encrypted Email Platform With Excellent Security
Hushmail is mature and well established as a secure and encrypted email platform, as it’s been around since 1999.
Though it’s designed as a webmail-type platform, it has full support for IMAP and POP3, so adding it to your email clients won’t be a hassle.
Hushmail uses state-of-the-art encryption technologies, so much so that not even Hushmail employees can access your emails.
Two-factor authentication is an optional extra, though we always recommend it. Hushmail can also send encrypted emails to Hushmail users and users of other email services like Gmail or Outlook Mail, which is a great benefit.
It also offers 10GB of disk space, much higher than most other encrypted email providers.
Hushmail has no free offering, though, not even a free trial. This means that you cannot test it before you buy it, but thankfully, they offer a two-month money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the product.
There is a mobile app available but only on iOS, though the webmail and IMAP / POP3 options make up for that to some extent.
Hushmail specializes in focused, secure email solutions, with packages for healthcare professionals, lawyers, and small business users, all professions where highly confidential communications are essential.
Its personal encrypted email offering is affordable while maintaining that same level of privacy, security, and confidentiality—all in all, an excellent option for secure and encrypted emails.
4. Mailfence – Ample Disk Space, Good End-To-End Encryption
Mailfence, a Belgium-based secure and encrypted email provider, is one of the top-recommended options.
As a service that is making quite a name for itself, Mailfence prides itself in the fact that Belgian privacy laws are solid, keeping your private email discussions out of the government’s hands.
This is comforting and definitely helps with the ever-important trust factor.
Mailfence has a free plan that, similarly to ProtonMail, comes with 500MB of disk space. Their premium plans are very impressive, though.
There are three plans, with 5GB, 20GB, and 50GB disk space, respectively, and very reasonably priced from ±US$3.00.
Mailfence has loaded the premium plans with extra features unavailable to free users, making the paid offerings more enticing.
Some of those extra features for paid Mailfence users include support for POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Android, iOS, and ActiveSync, meaning that you will have no problems using Mailfence on any email platform of your choice.
Two-factor authentication is also available if you choose to use it (which you really should), and Mailfence will let you use a custom domain with your email.
Like ProtonMail, you can start with a free plan to see if you are satisfied with Mailfence is a great benefit.
The downside, though, is the fact that Mailfence is closed-source. This means that its code is not available to be inspected by others to reinforce security.
But so far, it would seem that Mailfence is working well since most of its online reviews are from positive, happy users.
5. Tutanota – “Secure Message Is My Middle Name”
Tutanota, literally from the Latin words for “secure” and “message,” is another name that is often directly associated with secure and encrypted email.
Based on open-source standards, its code is available for others to evaluate so that its security is constantly improving and vulnerabilities are identified and patched. Open-source code is a benefit that is not to be underestimated.
A free Tutanota account gives you a secure email address with 1GB of disk storage space, and it’s only available for private use.
You can upgrade to other packages that include up to 1TB (yes, one terabyte) disk space and unique domains, but 1GB for a free account is one of the best free offerings we’ve seen. This should be a sufficient package for most personal users.
Tutanota has a webmail interface similar to ProtonMail’s, which means it’s user-friendly and familiar.
It also has Android and iOS apps available to make it easier to access your secure, encrypted emails on the go.
However, IMAP is not supported, so your Tutanota email account cannot be added to another email client and can only be accessed through webmail or dedicated apps.
All things considered, Tutanota is a very reliable encrypted email provider, allowing you to even send encrypted emails to users who don’t have an encrypted email platform by password protecting the message.
The user will receive a link and need to type a password that you will have to give them another way. This makes Tutanota one of the best secure encrypted email providers out there.
What About Securing And Encrypting My Existing Email Address?
Maybe you don’t want to get a new email address. Perhaps you want to keep your existing email account (after all, everyone already has that email address), but you want it to be more secure?
There are some excellent services that you can add to your existing email account, like Gmail, to encrypt and make it more secure. We will now examine two of the best ways to accomplish this.
6. Virtru For Gmail – Top-Tier Encryption For Gmail, If You Use Chrome
Virtru is a company that secures, encrypts, and retains emails for corporates. Used by giant corporations like Netflix, TripAdvisor, and the US Department of Defense, Virtru is an established email security and protection name.
As a corporate solution, it must have the highest levels of security and privacy. Through Virtru for Gmail, they are making this available to private users as well.
Virtru for Gmail is free to use. It integrates seamlessly with Gmail, enabling you to easily encrypt all your Gmail conversations.
It also protects email attachments, and you can even set message expiration for any outgoing email messages that will delete the message after a specific time.
You get many of the same features you would with a service like ProtonMail, for free, on your existing Gmail account.
The only catch is that you must log in with Google Chrome as your web browser to utilize the power of Virtru for Gmail.
That’s because it uses a Google Chrome extension to work its wonders with Gmail. Though other Chromium-based browsers support Chrome extensions, like Microsoft Edge, it seems that Virtru does not work well, if at all, on other platforms, which is a pity.
So if you have a Gmail account and you happen to use Google Chrome as your web browser, you may well want to encrypt your Gmail account using Virtru for Gmail.
It’s powerful, uses top-tier encryption, is trusted by massive corporations, and any added security is always a good thing. And best of all, it’s free, so there’s no risk involved.
7. SecureMyEmail – Encrypt And Secure Any Email Account
SecureMyEmail earned its spot on this list purely because it’s a fantastic concept. It can encrypt any email address (as long as it supports IMAP, which most unencrypted email services do) and support multiple email addresses.
It does this by adding an additional interface layer between you and the email service provider. Encryption is added before the message is sent.
It’s much simpler than it sounds. SecureMyEmail gives you an email client or webmail interface, similar to Gmail or Outlook, where you can add multiple email accounts.
You read and send your emails using this email client or webmail interface rather than Outlook or whichever interface you used before. SecureMyEmail encrypts the email messages before passing them to the servers.
SecureMyEmail has a fully functional free service, but only for one account, and only if that account is Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or a Microsoft email account.
If you use another email account type or want to add more than one email address, you have the option of a 30-day free trial.
Once the trial is over, you can buy a premium package, which is also affordable and competitive in the market.
The only real caveat is that SecureMyEmail is still a relatively young service. There have also been reports of downtime or features not working at times.
This is bound to improve, and probably already has, since SecureMyEmail’s popularity is climbing at a remarkable rate.
It is an exceptional service, and it is absolutely perfect for encrypting and securing an existing address.
With so many free or affordable email providers available to secure and encrypt our emails, there really is no need to use unencrypted email anymore.
We all know our communications are used to mine data for advertising and marketing purposes, or sometimes more nefarious reasons. But only we can change that.
Let’s protect our privacy, and encrypted email is the perfect starting point.