Modern TV detective series must have a character that is technologically savvy. Give her a fuzzily shaped image, and she will sharpen it till the license plate is legible. Locate the criminal’s computer? In no time, she will have the email account open and even be able to access deleted messages. Getting into an email account is entirely fictitious, but some of these other feats? That is reasonable. Additionally, email traffic between servers can be intercepted.
You require an encrypted email service if you want true privacy, which comes in the form of emails that are unreadable by anyone not allowed to view them. For you, we’ve compiled a diverse range of options, some of which are completely free. Continue reading for our top selections and advice on how to select an email encryption service.
Our Top 8 Picks for the Most Effective Free Encryption
Free Trial of SKIFF
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WHAT MADE US CHOOSE IT? While it’s a good idea to encrypt your emails, email isn’t the only method we interact. With a free Skiff account, you may collaborate on shared resources, share and save confidential files, and encrypt your email end-to-end. It’s a step toward taking control of your privacy and away from relying on large corporations for such things.
After choosing your Skiff account name, you are immediately prepared to collaborate, share files, and send messages all while using end-to-end encryption. Because Skiff doesn’t make an effort to safeguard email messages outside of its network, you should ask your friends to sign up as well. You and your collaborators can work on projects simultaneously, each seeing the changes the other makes, just like with services like Google Docs.
The creators of Skiffs obviously value innovation and remaining current. For storage, you can choose to use the decentalized Interplanetary Filesystem, and you can connect particular cryptocurrency accounts to your Skiff account. Even pro-level enhancements can be purchased using cryptocurrency.
IS IT FOR WHOM? You’re not a follower; you’re a leader. You are fully aware that depending on large corporations for free file storage, email, and collaboration turns you into a product rather than a client. By choosing Skiff as an alternative, you may safeguard your privacy while also advancing Web3, or Web3 as it is sometimes referred to.
The best Skiff review for ProtonVPN users
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WHAT MADE US CHOOSE IT? Email encryption makes sure that no one may eavesdrop on or alter your crucial communications with dependable contacts. You can connect with untrusted recipients using email aliases, sometimes known as disposable email addresses, or DEAs, without providing them your genuine email address. Both are provided by StartMail in a delightful synergy.
StartMail uses the PGP protocol for encryption, similar to many rival solutions, automating key exchange with other StartMail users. PGP wizards can manually exchange keys to encrypt emails sent outside of the StartMail network, but it is probably simpler to use the password-based solution.
You can create an email alias in StartMail if you need to provide an email address for a newsletter, a new online retailer, or another non-personal connection. Your inbox shows messages addressed to the alias, and replies appear to be sent by the alias. However, you may simply disable or delete the alias if you wish to get rid of the connection, possibly because it started getting spam.
IS IT FOR WHOM? You’re meticulous and prefer to think about everything. With StartMail, you can send trustworthy correspondents end-to-end encrypted email and use aliases to hide your real email address from shady emailers. It’s a belt and suspenders strategy!
Review of StartMail: The Easiest to Use
VIRTRU EMAIL PROTECTION (Opens in a new window)
WHAT MADE US CHOOSE IT? Preveil-like business-grade encryption is made available to consumers, while Virtru performs the same thing for free. Simply add the Virtru plugin to Chrome, access your Gmail account, and turn on encryption. Virtruits safeguarded by your strong Gmail account password and your Gmail two-factor authentication—there isn’t a separate password or login for Virtruits.
With Virtru, you have more control over message sending than merely enabling encryption. You can choose a time after which the message will expire, and you can manage message expiration even for transmitted messages. You can set attached files and images for read-only display or watermark them to show that they were created by you.
Nobody else can open your secure communication without establishing ownership of the receiving email account, even though the recipient doesn’t require a password to do so. Through the secure site, you can also impose restrictions on answering and forwarded messages.
IS IT FOR WHOM? Virtru is not for you if you do not use Gmail. The same goes if you don’t use Chrome. However, using this free service through its browser extension is practically straightforward if you fit the profile.
The best option for secure file sharing is Virtru Email Protection for Gmail.
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WHAT MADE US CHOOSE IT? For some people, moving to a new email account is a deal-breaker when beginning email encryption. If your email account supports IMAP, you can use SecureMyEmail to preserve it while also protecting your messages. Additionally, using SecureMyEmail with a Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft account is free. Paying customers can use this service to secure up to eight email accounts.
PGP is used by SecureMyEmail for encryption, although most of its workings are hidden beneath this technology. You must create (and keep in mind) a PGP passphrase in addition to your account password. Regardless of whether the receivers are SecureMyEmail users, non-users, or a mix of both, sending encrypted messages couldn’t be simpler.
Your mail is end-to-end encrypted for other users. The service uses a key pair that it creates based on the recipient’s email address to encrypt mail for non-users. The recipient doesn’t require a password, just like with Virtru.
IS IT FOR WHOM? Do you possess many email accounts? Several that are significant enough to warrant encryption? Paying for several encryption providers separately could get expensive. Overall, SecureMyEmail is less expensive than some rivals, and your monthly subscription encrypts not just one, not two, but eight different emails.
Review of SecureMyEmail I thought my email was encrypted. You might recall that Google modified Gmail a few years ago so that it always connects via a secure HTTPS connection. In other words, it encrypts using the industry-standard Transport Layer Security (TLS). This is good, but it only goes so far. Every website should use HTTPS (Opens in a new window) .
Google claims that it doesn’t now read your mail. However, it’s simple to unintentionally grant third-party apps access to view your messages. Additionally, Google does properly scan your communications to take actions like adding automated flight notifications to your schedule. Additionally, Google has a policy outlining when it will divulge your email to law enforcement, and it makes it abundantly apparent that it will do so if required.
0.0 of 0.0 seconds Volume % CFM volume Digital signatures and complete encryption are supported by Apple Mail. You need to get a security certificate in order to activate these functionalities. The number of sources for free certificates used to be rather large, but it is now getting shorter. To secure a certificate for testing, we engaged a third-party provider. Your emails are automatically digitally signed when the certificate is loaded in your keychain. Additionally, you can send a message encrypted by clicking the lock symbol if all of the recipients have certs.
Even though this is a technically savvy group, a short survey of my PCMag colleagues revealed that exactly no one has set up an email security certificate. Except that you can’t go lower than zero, you’d expect even fewer typical consumers to have encryption activated for their Apple Mail.
Apple has, in any case, experienced some issues with encryption. 2019 saw the discovery of unencrypted copies of secure emails in the database used by Siri to provide you with better service. We can all agree that Siri doesn’t need to decrypt our emails.
The key takeaway is that the objectives of your email provider are not oriented on security and privacy. If you’re serious about shielding your emails from prying eyes, find a third party provider that prioritizes security.
WHAT FREE EMAIL ENCRYPTION SERVICE IS BEST? You may be persuaded that encrypting your email is a good idea, but are you persuaded enough to part with your hard-earned money to pay for it? Don’t worry; there are no fees.
Preveil and Virtru are both free to use. Both are streamlined versions of enterprise-level products with a consumer focus. The money comes in from their big brother products. Skiff provides free access to secure file sharing, encrypted email, and private collaboration.
If you use SecureMyEmail to encrypt just one Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft account, there are no fees or feature restrictions. You may secure up to eight accounts with a premium subscription, which also provides support for other email providers. You don’t need a credit card or any other personal information to sign up for a free account or a 30-day trial of the paid service other than your email address.
You can send and receive an unlimited number of fully encrypted messages using open-source technology utilizing Tutanota’s free service. Along with your encrypted mailbox, you also get a protected calendar. You can add up to five aliases (alternative emails) and establish several calendars, as well as define filter rules to manage incoming messages, by upgrading to the reasonably priced premium edition.
ProtonMail and Private-Mail are also free to use, but you must agree to some restrictions. Smart customers will create a free account and check to see if the restrictions annoy them. If so, upgrading to a paid account is easy. The only item discussed here that doesn’t have a free tier is StartMail, though it does have a 7-day free trial.
DOES ENCRYPTION REQUIRE THAT I CHANGE MY EMAIL ADDRESS? On the one hand, it can be liberating to start over with a brand-new email account. You are aware that neither the Dark Web nor data aggregators have circulated the new URL. On the other hand, you need to update all of your online accounts with the new address and notify all of your contacts that your address has changed.
To use ProtonMail, Private-Mail, Skiff, StartMail, or Tutanota, you must change your email address. It must be distinct within the system, just like with any other webmail system. You might be able to get your own name without adding a lot of digits or other characters, though, as these sites don’t have the millions or even billions of subscribers that Gmail or Yahoo do. Wouldn’t you prefer johndoe@ to johndoe18592@ as your email address?
You can keep your current email address using Preveil, SecureMyEmail, and Virtru. In fact, using a Gmail address is a must for Virtru. You are not restricted to a certain email provider using Preveil. It connects with the native mail program on your mobile devices as well as Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail for Windows and macOS. Similar to that, SecureMyEmail can manage accounts from any IMAP-compatible email provider.
To whom may I send encrypted emails? It serves no purpose to encrypt your messages if the recipient cannot decipher them. That part of the equation is handled in a number of ways by various products.
To read a Preveil message, the recipient must install Preveil. But that’s not really a limitation given how cost-free and simple to install the device is. You don’t need to remember passwords or take any further steps in order to encrypt your communications; this is done automatically.
Skiff is likewise cost-free, but you must spread the word and persuade your connections to use it. While messages sent outside the Skiff network are only encrypted between you and the Skiff servers, messages sent between Skiff users are end-to-end encrypted.
Additionally, Virtru controls encryption keys away of sight. Without having to install Virtru, the recipient of a message uses a link to view and respond to the message in a browser window.
Similar to Virtru, the recipient of a message sent to someone outside the Tutanota network receives a notification with a link. A password must be delivered to the receiver using a method other than email. The link opens a version of Tutanota that is mostly empty save for the ability to send secure replies.
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is an encryption protocol that is used by StartMail, Private-Mail, and ProtonMail to protect messages sent between customers of their respective services. This implies that users of other email systems that support PGP can also exchange encrypted mail with one another. However, it can be challenging to set up the required key exchange to allow third-party PGP correspondence.
A feature for securely interacting with people who don’t utilize the service and don’t have a PGP key is also present in those same three products. Although the implementations vary, the general approach remains the same. You use a password to encrypt your message and send it to the receiver through text, phone, or any non-email communication method.
SecureMyEmail automatically generates keys and sets the message’s expiration date to 30 days when you send out-of-network mail through it. The recipient can safely reply to the message after authenticating and viewing it on a web page. You have the option of adding a password for security or reducing the expiration time. Additionally capable of importing pre-existing PGP keys, SecureMyEmail has no issues sending the identical message to both in- and out-of-network receivers.
WHERE IS MY EMAIL PROTECTED BY ENCRYPTION? You must input the PGP passphrase for your encryption key in order to use PGP encryption. Each communication you send that isn’t PGP-encrypted can have its own password. Your possession of a trusted device suffices for basic authentication with Preveil and Virtru. As for revoking trust for a lost device, that is possible.
All data, including message headers, subject lines, and contacts, is encrypted by Tutanota. Make sure your password is strong because you do need one to access your account. As mentioned, in order to communicate with contacts who don’t already use Tutanota, you must generate a password for each contact and send it to them using a method other than email. This password is securely kept by Tutanota together with the contact information.
When multi-factor authentication is enabled, you can increase security regardless of whether basic authentication depends on a password or trusted device. All of the following services—ProtonMail, Private-Mail, Skiff, StartMail, and Tutanota—support multi-factor authentication using Google Authenticator or any service that can generate a time-based one-time password (TOTP) in accordance with industry standards.
0.0 of 0.0 seconds Volume % CFM volume A Yubikey or other U2F (Universal 2nd Factor) authentication key is also supported by Tutanota for authentication. Multiple keys may be registered, and a TOTP app may also work with U2F. The TOTP app takes over for authentication if you don’t have your U2F key on hand.
Preveil requires that you have access to a trusted device, know your email account’s password, and use whatever authentication method you usually use to open trustworthy devices, such as a passcode or biometric system. Although it’s not the standard password-plus-TOTP kind, it is a type of multi-factor authentication.
WHAT ELSE DO I GET FROM SERVICES FOR EMAIL ENCRYPTION? As mentioned, you start over with a new email address when using these services. However, if you start using that address, once other businesses and websites have it, it won’t remain spotless. Unless you never share your email address with anyone.
How can you send an email without disclosing your address? How? By employing a service that generates disposable email addresses (DEAs). Every time you need to share your address, a service like this creates a unique DEA. Your regular inbox receives messages addressed to that DEA, and the DEA seems to respond to those messages. Additionally, you may simply delete it if one of your DEAs starts to experience spam or other issues.
Although Private-Mail can manage DEAs, it is somewhat constrained in comparison to DEA-specific applications like Burner Mail and ManyMe. Even fewer email aliases are available in Skiff and Tutanota, and once they are created, you cannot change them. StartMail once had similar restrictions, however at the moment it also provides full DEA management in addition to email encryption. Abine Blur goes beyond simple DEAs by enabling you to shop while concealing your credit card number, phone number, and real email address.
A file can be shared securely with the majority of these services by being attached to an encrypted message; Private-Mail is the exception as it only accepts plain text. By providing you with encrypted cloud storage and the option to safely transfer files from that storage, it makes up for that shortcoming. Preveil also provides secure cloud storage. You may choose what the recipients can do with the material, from altering and re-sharing down to simply seeing it in a viewer window. Currently available to all users in beta, a comparable ProtonMail capability.
Full-scale collaboration with simultaneous editing and end-to-end encryption is available with Skiff. Skiff can be used for safe file sharing as well.
Virtru and ProtonMail communications can have their expiration dates and times configured. When you won’t have access to email, you can set an away message with ProtonMail and Private-Mail. These two also allow you to create filtering rules. As previously mentioned, SecureMyEmail out-of-network mails automatically expire after no more than 30 days, however in-network messages do not have an expiry option.
As said, the free version of Tutanota includes a secure calendar that syncs with all of your devices. You can make several calendars by purchasing a premium account. The accompanying ProtonCalendar program is also accessible for free. A calendar feature is also available in Private-Mail. Private-technique Mail’s for syncing that calendar, however, turned out to be too complicated for the average user during testing.
WHAT EMAIL ENCRYPTION IS BEST? As you can see, each of these items has its advantages and provides a unique collection of features. Preveil is a top pick and an Editors Choice winner for its weapons-grade encryption, simplicity of use, and low cost (free!). Skiff is yet another Editors’ Choice because of the way it combines simple encrypted email with secure collaboration and file sharing. When it comes down to it, you may have to decide whether to accept a new, secure email from Skiff or stick with your current email with Preveil.
Read our list of the top encryption programs for securing the data on your disks while you’re considering security.