An often-heard mantra by privacy advocates, especially related to Facebook, is that if you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product. That said and since it might not be the best idea to simply go with the email offered by your hosting provider it might be a good idea to look for a proper email provider and there are plenty to choose from.
I was facing this question in summer 2019 and finally decided in favor of ProtonMail, a service founded by former CERN physicist Andy Yen and others in 2013. After a glorious Indiegogo campaign, the venture evolved into a full-scale business, serving nowadays more than 10 million users and setting industry standards about email security.
Among others these three points excited me most about ProtonMail:
a) The Branding
Think of it, how cool would it be to have a PROTON email address? Especially since I am a physicist myself?!
On top of that they offer the short email@example.com*, so how awesome is that?
(*PM = private message, frequently used in social networks)
b) Secure Email
All the email sent between ProtonMail users is encrypted by default. No need to handle public keys and additional plugins for encryption, ProtonMail takes care of that. In addition, you can create self-destructing messages and send password-protected emails even to non-Proton users.
You probably won’t get the kind of protection that keeps spies and whistle-blowers alive, but you will receive decent protection from prying eyes at quite a low cost and effort.
c) The Unsubscribe Button
Yes, for every email originating from a mailing list, there is an unsubscribe button! No more hassle searching for that tiny unsubscribe link in faint grey at the bottom of a newsletter and clicking through feedback forms. I really appreciate how they paid attention to such many small but super-useful details.
Also, you can see that loading remote content is disabled by default, another feature that adds security to your inbox: Any code contained in an email is only executed after your approval.
All this comes with a caveat: Till mid-2016 Google blocked ProtonMail to rank in their search results for “secure email” and you might still face some issues when signing up on some websites. For example, investing.com refused my proton email. But apart from this, I haven’t experienced any serious limitations, ProtonMail itself works like a charm!
The Proton Mission
It is also amazing to see how the proton venture goes on with its mission to build secure internet tools that value privacy. In 2017 they were introducing Proton VPN, becoming a fully open-source and transparent VPN service. And in December 2019 they announced another project I am pretty excited about: the Proton Calendar, which is currently in beta. If you are a Proton Mail or Proton VPN user you can test the beta version via https://beta.protonmail.com/login
What email provider do you use? Feel free to post a comment or drop me line at
(which I handle by now also using ProtonMail).
Disclaimer: I am a paying customer of ProtonMail, despite having no further business relation with Proton Technologies AG
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