How many email mailboxes have you operated throughout your life? Chances are that it is more than a handful, including personal addresses, work-related, and possibly even temporary mailboxes. However, if you consider which (if any) of these services gave you comprehensive control over your data and effective tools for protecting it, the range of options will probably shrink enormously. This article will help you learn all of the key aspects of a private email service.
Strong privacy protection is rare in email
Even though privacy is a hot topic in the digital world and a word considered essential for building trust in them, the privacy offerings of some of the biggest mail providers are lackluster, to say the least. For example, Gmail and Outlook boast millions of users, and yet they don’t use the strongest form of encryption. This means that if you use their services, the contents of messages are protected (with TLS encryption) while they are being transmitted, but the rest of the time, they are stored on the email service’s servers alongside the keys needed to decrypt them, leaving your messages at risk in the event of a data breach.
End-to-end encryption should be your primary choice
With all this talk about underperforming services, you might be wondering what a service needs to have to instead be considered favorable. Well, perhaps the first factor to look at is end-to-end encryption. This standard is best if you want messages to be unreadable to hackers at all times. That is, of course, if they don’t get direct access to the inbox. With modern encryption design, even a mail provider engaging this standard is unable to read the contents of the messages it hosts/transmits.
On top of this, there are several additional privacy features worthy of attention. One is password-protected mail. This adds another layer of protection to the existing logon requirements of mail service, so even reading a protected email becomes possible with the right password. Other features with great potential are temporary (self-destructing) messages, mandatory confirmation of message reception, and anonymization.
Private email isn’t concerned with turning data into profit
To cover some costs associated with their servers and services, mail providers often take shortcuts and engage in business practices that are unsavory in terms of privacy. For example, they might gather information about your email contacts and subscriptions and show you tailored ads based on these subjects/organizations. Some of the shadiest companies may even screen the contents of your messages for keywords and interest terms.
With this in mind, privacy-focused providers should respect your anonymity and confidentiality, and if ads are unavoidable, they should at least be neutral in their targeting, with no references to your individual habits/interests, and especially their transmitted messages.
How they do this without selling data is an interesting question. For example, A freemium model offers a free base service with the option for paid tiers or upgrades. Trial/preview arrangements have also been popular for decades, while subscription-based service has only taken off relatively recently. Finally, we have the simplest variety – a one-off payment for a service, covering all their needs until they stop using the mailbox or exhaust set limits.