Why I moved to ProtonMail

I used an email address provided by Apple for 15 years. First @mac.com then @me.com after that came @icloud.com.

  • Until 31-12-2018 all emails will be forwarded to my new email address.
  • After 1 January 2019 all emails will be deleted instantly.
  • On 31-12-2019 my old email address will be removed.

Fundamental issues with email

Email is fundamentally insecure. It is probably even crazier when you realize we’ve had a solution for sending secure email since 1991. There’s lots of fundamental issues with email. Here are some of them:

Email travels and is stored in plain text

This means that anyone managing a server or network device along the way can read (and modify) the email as they like. You may compare it to sending a postcard by regular mail. Any information in it should be regarded as publicly available. Ever heard of “leaked emails”? Yeah. It doesn’t take much of a hacker to do that.

There are no integrity checks

When you send an email, you don’t know whether it will end up at the recipient without modification. The recipient can’t trust the content, as they can’t be assured it haven’t been modified along the way. This happens much more than you think. Usually “just” some tracking code or ads are inserted.

There is no sender verification

Ever heard of phishing? Do you know how to impose as someone? Go into your email client and change the email address. Now you can send emails on behalf of that person. Usually, there is no way to detect if an email was really sent by someone or not.

Solution is to encrypt and sign

In 1991 Phil Zimmermann is very much aware of these issues with email and invents a solution he calls Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP for short. PGP provides cryptographic privacy and authentication for just about any data.

Cryptographic key pair

You create a cryptographic key pair. This pair consists of a private and a public key. The private key must be kept really, really secret and secure. The public key should be made as publicly available as possible: Uploaded to special key servers and posted on your website and social media profiles.

Encrypted content

When someone wants to send you an email, they encrypt it with your public key. Only the secret key can be used to decrypt the contents. This means that only you can read the content.

Digital signature

Also, whether you choose to encrypt the content or not, you can digitally sign the email message you’re sending. Then you use your private key to generate and attach a signature based on the content of the email message. The recipient can then use your public key to verify that the signature was really made with your private key – thus really signed by you. This verifies both the sender and the content. If the signature doesn’t match with both the sender and the content, something phishy is going on.

Why ProtonMail?

Historically, PGP has been difficult to use, and it was not possible for most users to set up and regularly use PGP. ProtonMail is unique because it has PGP fully integrated such that you do not need to take any additional steps to benefit from PGP encryption. This means that with ProtonMail, anybody can use PGP, regardless of their technical knowledge.

All messages between ProtonMail users are automatically end-to-end encrypted. Additionally, all messages in ProtonMail inboxes are protected with PGP encryption to prevent anyone from reading or sharing your emails while at rest, a concept known as zero-access encryption.

For me the easy setup for all my private and business email address was the biggest part why I chose ProtonMail.

  • ProtonMail is incorporated in Switzerland and all our servers are located in Switzerland. This means all user data is protected by strict Swiss privacy laws.
  • All emails are secured automatically with end-to-end encryption. This means even they cannot decrypt and read your emails. As a result, your encrypted emails cannot be shared with third parties.
  • ProtonMail can be used on any device without software install. ProtonMail secure email accounts are fully compatible with other email providers. You can send and receive emails normally.

698 Words

2018-12-01 13:04 +0100