Just recently I had noticed a couple of well known authors I follow impress on their readers the importance (and to an extent drawbacks) with privacy in the crypto space. It was in this first article by Rah, that highlighted one of the key issues with preferred email providers (like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft). That is to say that information from these email services and other services they provide often share information about you. While it is reasonable to assume that this is predominantly for the purposes of personalizing user experience it still should raise a few concerns for you. Especially if that data contains information on whom you have crypto assets stored with etc.
To further support the importance of this eye on your personal privacy and security Paragism recently posted up an article discussing the key safety steps that all of us should consider when taking care online.
These articles and others like it have had me thinking about choosing the right mail service provider for handling interactions with cryptocurrency exchanges/projects which actually jogged my memory a bit, having remembered a brief advertising campaign that was on Brave some months earlier. In this article we're going take a brief look at a free encrypted mail service (ProtonMail) that could well be the solution that folks are looking for.
Interestingly, Proton actually also reviewed Brave and put it at the top (tied for first place with Mozilla) when considering privacy oriented browsers (perhaps this is one of the reasons they targeted Brave Ads as in their campaign, seems like they are peas in a pod).
ProtonMail is a free (at the basic level), open source, end-to-end encrypted email service (and VPN) with servers located in Switzerland.
Now our initial thoughts should be what is the catch, right? Most free services (VPNs etc.) tend to be free for a reason, there is often data selling going on in the background. However, that doesn't appear to be the case with this product. Instead, free means here 'limited use'. Which means, if you want to get all of the features then you would need to pay for an account, however, the basic account (email service) is free and does the job well if you're looking for minimal usage or just to try it out.
So let's look in a bit more detail at what features there are and the associated costs.
There are four tiers of account available:
- 1.) Free. Including; A basic email account with some limited storage/support and maximum message capacity (you actually also get three folders/labels)
- 2.) Plus. Including; Additional capacity/message limits, better features for keeping the account tidy, more support and additional email personalization
- 3.) Visionary. Including; Considerably more capacity, unlimited messages and multi-user access/supports (this one for me seems like a team email account really). You also get access here to the ProtonVPN service.
- 4.) Professional. The business level of service in case you want to have Proton host your company email services.
Incidentally, if you're interested in picking one of the paid services it could be worth checking out their Black Friday Sale that is currently on for the next week.
How-to Set up
Well as you can imagine, with a service claiming to be secure and anonymous, there is very little required to get yourself up and running. It is just a case of clicking on "Get Encrypted Mail", choosing your plan then completing the basic information below.
As you can see above there is limited information required and you have a choice of a "protonmail.com" or "protonmail.ch" address, just in case you really want that Swiss association.
Once in your mailbox you'll see it is quite a clean interface with the bulk of the spacing being saved for your Inbox and preview panes. There is also a mobile app which is quite tidy as well (which thanks to the recent iOS update you can now change to your default email if you need to).
Now one thing to remember with this email service is that the encryption is not to dissimilar to crypto wallets. Which means that if you forget your password and didn't set up a recovery then you're likely out of luck. Similarly when setting up the 2-factor authentication (2FA) for login they will actually supply you with 10 back-up, one-time use, codes that can be used to access your account. So be sure to back up these securely, in case you lose access to the app on your phone.
Even for the basic level account I've found using this to be really great. As time goes on and if it looks like space becomes an issue I think I'll seriously consider an upgrade. For now though the app is solid, the interface is appealing and the added security and privacy over other free email options is a nice bonus.
As mentioned earlier they also offer a VPN service that I think I'll take a look into. The tier system seems to be very similar with a free options going up to the business solutions.
For now though, I hope you enjoyed the article and find some of this information useful. Stay safe out there, y'all!