Emails are important. But do you want the entire ecosystem of crooked cyber criminals snooping at them? If not, you need an email encryption service that will keep those criminals away from your mail box.
In this blurb, I am going to share with you my top picks of best email encryption services of 2021.
Why do you need Email Encryption?
Before electronic mails came into existence, it was all about postcards and inland letters. It was virtually impossible for someone to read the content (except for the postman) and make changes.
Things changed with the emergence of electronic mails or emails. Emails make use of what is known as HTTPS to ensure secure transmission of messages that you send or receive.
However, that doesn’t stop hackers from accessing your emails. Even worse, assuming that hackers are not getting into your inbox, the email provider you use can access your email content. Gmail is one such example.
Do you really think Gmail doesn’t know what type of emails you send and receive? Ever noticed those pesky ads in your inbox? Those are contextual ads. What does that mean?
Simply put, Google shows you ads depending on the content in your inbox. If your emails are mostly related to finance, you will see finance related ads. If your emails are mostly about universities, colleges, and schools, you will see relevant ads.
How do you think Google does that?
Yes, you have your answer! Google can read your emails! So essentially, your privacy means nothing!
How do you think Google puts all those notifications about scheduled meetings, flight departure times, dinner meets, etc., in the calendar?
That’s some fodder for your brain today!
Don’t forget that Google’s policy states that it can, and will hand over your emails to the government authorities, if needed.
Sometimes, you give third-party apps the permission to read your emails. That’s not good! Not at all good!
Aren’t these reasons enough to tell you why you need an email encryption service that will encrypt all the emails you are sending or receiving.
If you are an Apple user, you may come out and say – ‘hey Apple Mail’ has full support for encryption as well as digital signatures.’
Yes, you are right! But did you know that you need to get a security certificate for enabling those features?
Where do you get these certificates from?
Some of them are free, but unfortunately, the list of certificate providers is dwindling. One provider that still works is Actalis.
The certificate that Actalis gives you needs to be installed in the keychain. This will ensure that all your emails are digitally signed.
But will that encrypt your emails?
For the encryption to work, the recipient should also have Actalis certificate installed. If your intended recipient has the certificate installed, you can encrypt your email by clicking on the lock icon before hitting the send button.
The problem is, not everyone will have Actalis installed. In fact, most people don’t even know about it.
Apple’s encryption is not bulletproof. Security researchers figured out in 2019 that the database Siri uses has unencrypted copies of the secure emails (encrypted emails). Why on Earth will Siri need to get a hold of your emails to serve you better? Ever wondered about that?
You see, the point here is that the email provider you are using is not particularly interested in upholding your privacy. Even security isn’t their top priority.
That’s the reason why you need an email encryption service from a third-party provider.
Okay, now that you know why you need an email encryption service, it is about time to learn about the best email encryption services of 2021.
List of best email encryption services of 2021
In case you are short on time, here are my six best email encryption services of 2021:
If you have more time to spare, continue reading to find out the strengths and weaknesses of each of these six options.
PreVeil email encryption service is a free service. Don’t be bogged by the word ‘FREE.’ It offers military-grade encryption that is perfect for business use (where you may be at the risk of business espionage).
It is extremely easy to use, and offers a secure cloud storage. The best part is that you don’t have to change your existing email ID and switch to a new one.
Pros of PreVeil:
- Works seamlessly with any existing email account.
- Offers a military-grade encryption.
- Offers direct support for both Gmail and Outlook.
- High-tech key recovery.
- Offers encrypted file sharing in a secure way.
- There are native applications for Windows and macOS.
- There are separate apps for iOS and Android.
- Offers zero-knowledge encryption, which means that even PreVeil will not know what’s in your email messages.
Cons of PreVeil:
- Requires manual installation on email clients that are not supported by PreVeil.
You must have had an experience with a webmail before. Isn’t it easy to use a webmail? Using ProtonMail is that simple. But what sets ProtonMail apart is its encryption.
All your messages are protected with zero-knowledge encryption, which means that even the employees of ProtonMail cannot know what is in there. Additionally, all messages are transmitted with an end-to-end encryption.
Pros of ProtonMail:
- Message transmission has end-to-end encryption if the sender and the recipient are both using ProtonMail.
- For non-users, you can set password protection for your messages.
- ProtonMail has support for PGP encryption.
- You can set the messages to expire after a certain time.
- Email storage has zero-knowledge encryption.
- It has both free and premium version available. The premium version is quite inexpensive.
Cons of ProtonMail:
- ProtonMail will put a limit on daily messages even if you are a premium member of the service.
Tutanota email encryption service has both free and premium versions available. While the premium version will ensure that every aspect of your email communication is encrypted, the free version puts some limitations that should be fine for casual users.
The free version will allow you to send and receive messages without limitations. You will also get a secure calendar with the free option. However, if you try to search encrypted message, there will be a limit. You cannot search for messages older than 30 days.
The premium version lifts the limitation and adds more features like adding five email aliases, filtering rules, etc.
Pros of Tutanota:
- Tutanota encrypts everything of an email including headers and the subject.
- There are no limits to the number of messages you can send or receive.
- You will get a full-fledged calendar for free even with the free tier.
- Allows searching encrypted messages.
- The code is open-source.
Cons of Tutanota:
- Encrypted message search function is a disk hog.
- The alias system is very limited.
Virtu is a company that is engaged in security and email retention of big corporations. That doesn’t mean you cannot use it. Yes, you can! All you need to do is install the Virtru Email Protection for Gmail.
This allows you to enjoy top-tier encryption for free! Unfortunately, it works only with Gmail, and that too, only when you are using Google Chrome for using Gmail.
So, what exactly do you install? A chrome extension! Once you install it, you are in! That’s it! You don’t have to pay anything to use Virtru with Gmail.
Pros of Virtru:
- Free for everyone at the consumer level.
- Has the ability to protect attachments.
- Is capable of suppressing message forwarding, and setting expiration.
- Integrates very easily with Gmail. It only requires installing a Chrome extension.
Cons of Virtru:
- It works only with Gmail, and that too, only on the Chrome browser.
- Some users think that Virtru holds the encryption key, but that’s not the case.
Private-Mails uses PGP encryption for securing your emails. The service offers a free tier option where you don’t have to give away your credit card details. However, with the free version, you will be limited to 100 MB email storage, and 100 MB cloud storage for encrypted files.
You can increase the limits by opting for their Standard or Pro plans, but again, there will be some limitations.
Private-Mail is one of the priciest, but it is noteworthy that they have several features that their competitors do not have.
With Private-Mail, you can share encrypted files with others!
Pros of Private-Mail:
- Provides two-factor authentication.
- Stores and shares encrypted files.
- Uses PGP public key cryptography for securing encrypted emails.
- Comes with various additional features that the competitors do not provide.
Cons of Private-Mail:
- It is not easy to setup encrypted messages.
- Only PGP cryptography is available. No other option available.
- Allows sending encrypted messages only in plain text.
- Very expensive.
StartMail will automatically encrypt all emails you send to anyone using StartMail. If the intended recipient is not a StartMail subscriber, you can send password-based encrypted messages. While StartMail does have some cool features, there are some shortcomings that you will not like.
Having said that, let’s go through the pros and cons of StartMail.
Pros of StartMail:
- It uses PGP encryption.
- Allows creating and managing disposable email address.
- It will encrypt all messages sent to a recipient using StartMail.
- It will use password-based encryption for recipients not using StartMail.
- It has a very slick and modern UI.
- The service has support for two-factor authentication.
Cons of StartMail:
- Some features are available only when you use the Classic UI.
- Pretty expensive.
- There are no mobile apps.
That completes the list of my best email encryption services of 2021. However, there are a few questions that remain unanswered. So, let’s wrap up this article with a segment on frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Question
Not necessarily! There are services like PreVeil and Virtru are completely free. Tutanota, on the other hand, will allow you to send and receive unlimited number of emails even on their free tier.
ProtonMail and Private-Mail have free tiers available, but there are limitations that you need deal with. However, depending on your needs, those limitations might not be a big issue.
Well, if you are using a completely new email address, you will know that your email is not on the list of data aggregators, and no one has it. So, you will most likely not receive spams, or face other issues for quite some time.
Unfortunately, trying to change your email address will mean that you have to notify all your contacts about the new email address. That can be really boring and painstaking!
What more? Once you start using a new email address you have change your email ID in every online service you use that requires your email. It is needless to say that this alone can be a deterrent!
In case you want to use Tutanota, ProtonMail, Private-Mail, and StartMail, you will need to change your email address. So, make an informed decision.
If you want to retain your old email address, you can settle for the two free options – PreVeil and Virtru.
If you are sending encrypted messages, the recipient on the other end needs to have a way to decrypt the message to read it. Unless that happens, all that the recipient will see is a bunch of gibberish.
Now, the different email encryption services handle this problem in different ways. For instance, for Virtru, the recipient will need to install Virtru. However, since Virtru is free, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Some others like Tutanota, ProtonMail, etc. will allow sending password-encrypted messages. You need to find a way to send the password to the recipient. Don’t send it through email, because the recipient cannot read the password, because that will also be encrypted.
Some services use PGP encryption. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. This means that you can send encrypted messages to a recipient using another email service that supports PGP.
However, the recipient needs to configure and set up the necessary key exchange to enable PGP encrypted messages from a different email provider. Setting up this key exchange is not very easy.
Here is a quick list:
*Some will ask you to create a brand new email address.
*Some will allow you to create and managed DEA (Disposable Email Address) that you can use. If you start receiving spams in that address, or you face some other problem, you can discard the DEA and create another one.
*Except Private-Mail that supports only plain text, other providers in the list above will allow securely sharing files as attachments.
*Some of them will give you encrypted cloud storage.
*Some service providers will allow you to set expiration time for your messages. This means that once your set time is up, the recipient cannot access the messages.
*Some providers will allow setting ‘Away’ messages.
There are some services that will allow you to set filtering rules.
*Some providers will even give you a secure calendar. Tutanota is one of them.
Like it or not, in today’s world, privacy means a lot. It is a premium thing for us, because everyone is waiting out there for a chance to intrude your privacy. Emails are a great way to do that. That’s the reason why you will need an email encryption service.
An email encryption service will ensure that all your important messages stay away from the prying eyes including those of hackers and government officials. It is always a good idea to secure your emails using encryption.
So, go head and select the option that suits you the best!