What Are the World's Most Secure Email Providers in 2018?
It’s common for most users to have a few free email addresses registered at Gmail or Yahoo dating back several years - satisfied with its features and functionality.
To many users, a less-protected email provider is harmless, because they feel like they have nothing to hide. And the likelihood of someone looking into their email is considered to be negligible by many.
Although you might have nothing to hide, that doesn’t mean you should ignore any form of email protection. Companies like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook will hand over your email data to the U.S. government without hesitation.
In addition, what most users don’t realize is that, when you create an email account at Gmail, you also allow Google to scan your emails for keywords. Google uses this practice to target you with product personalization ads based on the scan results and analysis of all your email data.
Obviously, it’s not like Gmail and Yahoo are completely unprotected and insecure email providers. But, there are quite a few other email providers that offer highly advanced security features.
These less-popular email providers offer high-end security and encryption features, as well as much better protection of your online privacy overall.
In contrast to Gmail or Yahoo, these email providers don’t scan your emails for advertising purposes, and don’t hand over your email data to the U.S. government - or any other government, for that matter.
The majority of these email providers offer a mixed range of free and paid plans. Free plans often provide limited access to all the features - a limit on the number of email accounts and limited storage space.
However, the paid plans are rather inexpensive. For just a few dollars a month, you’ll have access to all the features, multiple email accounts and decent storage capacity.
Remember, when you aren’t paying for a product or service (like Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook), you are the product.
That’s the reason why I wrote this guide on the world’s most secure email providers. Check out the email providers below, all of which will keep your data private and secure from government forces and hackers!
List of Secure Email Providers in 2018
CounterMail’s philosophy is simple: offer the most secure online email service on the internet, with excellent and free support. That’s why it’s listed as my first pick.
CounterMail’s servers are located in Sweden. Like Germany, Sweden will enforce the new EU data privacy protection laws per May 25, 2018 (GDPR). In 1973, Sweden was one of the first countries to enact laws that protect the privacy of personal data.
They use diskless data servers, which basically means that any in- and outgoing email traffic can’t be read by others. Also, CounterMail is the only provider with 100% transparency on how their security systems work.
The company focuses entirely on your security. It’s also the only web-based service provider that implements a USB dongle feature. This provides an additional layer of protection in the form of physical security.
If you enable this feature, you’ll need a key to log in and decrypt your emails from CounterMail’s server. This means that you’ll be the only one with access to your account.
The only downside of this feature is when you lose or forget to bring your dongle - you won’t be able to log in.
If you need more storage, you can purchase extra space. Extra space requires a payment of a one-time fee, so you only have to pay it once.
CounterMail isn’t a cheap email provider. You will receive limited storage capacity and if you select the 12-month payment plan, you’ll pay $59.
For more information, visit Countermail’s website.
ProtonMail is widely regarded as one of the best email providers in the industry.
The servers of ProtonMail are based in Switzerland, a country with very strict privacy laws, which means your data is safe from government agencies looking to get their hands on your data.
ProtonMail is very user-friendly. Setting up an account is just as easy as with Gmail or Yahoo. Also, creating a ProtonMail account is free. For only $5 - $8 a month, you can enjoy extra features.
When it comes to security, ProtonMail is as good as they come. The powerful end-to-end encryption feature protects every email you send, up to the moment the recipient opens it. Also, the email can only be viewed by you and the recipient.
The zero-access construction of ProtonMail’s servers assure that only you and the recipient can read the encrypted emails stored on their server - not even ProtonMail can read it.
When the recipient is not a ProtonMail user, you can choose to send an unencrypted email. However, ProtonMail offers a feature that will encrypt the message, leaving a link in the email. The recipient can decrypt the email by entering a password you’ve shared with them in private.
Lastly, ProtonMail never logs IP addresses, which means that your online privacy is absolutely guaranteed.
For more information, visit ProtonMail’s website.
Hushmail provides both smartphone and desktop-based email applications, but is not compatible with MacOS.
The provider stores the data on servers based in Canada. Canada isn’t the best country for a server to be located in, because Canada’s privacy laws were first introduced 20 years ago, and haven’t been updated since. The current privacy laws fail to match the rapidly changing technological environment.
The service provider has been around the block for quite a while and has continuously been upgrading and improving its security features.
Hushmail’s core values are based on simplicity, clarity and privacy. These values are demonstrated by their easy-to-use interface, neat design and outstanding protection and privacy features.
Every email is encrypted with OpenPGP encryption. When the recipient is a Hushmail user, they will be able to read every email in their computer or smartphone application.
Recipients who are not using Hushmail will receive a link attached to the email that will redirect them to a secure website. The recipient will initially be required to enter a passphrase, but will have complete access afterward.
However, if you added an extra layer of security to the email with a security question, the recipient will have to answer that first as well.
Hushmail is available at $49.98 per year. If you want to try the application, you can sign up for the 14-day free trial.
For more information, visit Hushmail's website.
Tutanota is an open-source and web-based email application. Regardless of what device you’re using, Tutanota is available on iOS, Android, Windows and the Amazon App.
The company’s focus is on providing an easy-to-use application accompanied by the highest security and privacy standards. Tutanota’s servers are based in Germany, so German privacy laws are applicable.
Within the EU, Spain and Germany are widely seen as swinging the toughest data privacy sticks, states the BBC's website. That means that they’ve got your back when it comes to privacy.
Also, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become enforceable on May 25, 2018, introducing stronger privacy rights to citizens, as well as restrictions on international data sharing. The GDPR will put a stop to unlawful transfers of personal data out of the EU in response to a legal requirement from international governments.
Tutanota’s encryption feature is very simple to use and works for both Tutanota users and non-users. They also implement an end-to-end encryption solution. All your email data is safely stored on their servers and only visible for you and the recipient, due to its encryption key.
The application is completely free of charge. However, a free account only allows you to have 1 email address and provides up to 1GB of data storage space.
You can upgrade the storage capacity to 10GB/100GB/1TB priced at 24.00€/120.00€/600.00€ ($30/$148/$740), respectively.
If you want additional email aliases, you can buy 20/40/100 aliases priced at 12.00€/24.00€/48.00€ ($15/$30/$60), respectively.
For more information, visit Tutanota’s website.
Runbox Solutions is a Norwegian-based email provider, meaning your data is protected by Norway’s strong privacy regulations.
Their support department is available 24/7, offering fully integrated live support, extensive support guides and a trouble ticket system.
A major advantage of Runbox is the complete integration functionality with other email providers such as Outlook, Opera Mail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. That means that Runbox’s synchronization tool allows you to safely and securely copy all of your email data from these providers to your new Runbox email account.
Runbox runs a powerful server with high security standards. Though your data is not protected by an end-to-end solution like the previous email providers I’ve listed above, your data is safely stored in a vault and therefore protected by the Norwegian Constitution, which protects personal data.
Also, when you send an email, it will be sent over a secure and encrypted connection.
As for price plans, you can choose between 4 different plans. Each plan offers a unique selection of email storage and email aliases. While none of them are free, Runbox is pretty cheap, especially if you calculate the plans at a monthly rate.
For more information, visit Runbox’s website.
Kolab Now is a web-based email service provider, based completely on open-source software.
Similar to ProtonMail, the servers of Kolab Now are based in Switzerland, so your privacy is well-protected. According to their website, they will never sell your data or put you under surveillance.
Something notable to mention is that Kolab Now doesn’t state what security measures are implemented in order to secure your data. The email service is also not protected by end-to-end encryption.
Kolab Now has many additional features incorporated in the software. These features include a fully integrated calendar, contact list, shared folders and in-mail notes app, and more.
The provider isn’t the cheapest compared to the other mail service providers. The software comes at a minimum cost of $4.99 per month and gets more expensive with additional features.
When you sign up, you can select extra options and also opt for a higher storage limit.
Lastly, you can select a payment plan. This is of special interest to those who are certain that they want Kolab Now to be their future email provider, because they can save up to 3% by opting for an annual plan.
For more information, visit Kolab Now’s website.
Mailfence’s business model is based on the story that erupted after Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, copied and leaked the classified information that the NSA, and therefore the U.S. government, was spying on and monitoring American civilians.
The servers of Mailfence are based in Belgium, which means Belgium law is applicable when it comes to the protection of your personal data. As a member of the European Union, Belgium will enforce the new data-privacy laws per May 25, 2018. Also, Belgium updated and improved the country’s privacy laws on August 23, 2017.
Their homepage states “Secure and private email service.” If you tap “No!”, you are redirected to Gmail - which I find pretty ironic.
Similar to a few other examples in this list, Mailfence uses an end-to-end encryption model to keep your data safe from snoops and, potentially, even governments who may request that the email provider hand over email data.
You’re not required to send encrypted emails. You can also choose to disable the feature and send regular emails.
You can simply edit your personal settings to activate the encryption feature.
That means that Mailfence is also not able to read your emails. The extra features within its dashboard provide a calendar, cloud storage and collaboration opportunities (to improve Mailfence’s privacy and security systems).
The pricing strategy of Mailfence is relatively cheap, and you get pretty good perks for your money. For example, for only €2.50 a month, you get 5GB storage space and up to 20 email aliases.
For more information, visit Mailfence’s website.
Posteo is a privately-owned, German-based mail service provider. Similar to Tutanota, Posteo is protected by one of the strongest privacy laws in Europe.
Posteo is based on open-source development. In addition, it offers some nice features, such as completely anonymous sign-up, two-factor authentication and encrypted servers.
Every piece of data that passes through their servers is encrypted. From pictures and messages to other files - everything is protected by an encryption key.
Posteo is not a free webmail application, but it’s still very affordable. The cost for a regular account with up to 2GB storage space is only 1 EUR (1.23 USD) per month - and you can even pay anonymously!
If you want to enjoy extra storage space or other features, the costs are relatively cheap, too:
For more information, visit Posteo’s website.
Let’s Wrap It Up
When it comes to your online privacy, Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo do not provide a high level of protection. Your data is not safe or absolutely private. It’s potentially accessible by hackers and government institutions who may request that these providers hand over your email data.
In order to keep all your email data private and secured, you should go with one of the email service providers listed above.
Every email service provider that I listed values your online privacy way more than Gmail or Yahoo, and stores your data more securely as well. Particularly, end-to-end encryption will keep your data as safe as possible from any snoops or interested third parties.
My Final Thoughts
Any of the email providers I’ve discussed here would do a great job of protecting your email activities from third parties, government forces or hackers who might be after your email data. However, some are better than others.
When it comes to security, CounterMail is the best in the business. Their server is hosted in one of the best countries in regards to privacy regulations (Sweden). With end-to-end encryption, encrypted emails stored on CounterMail’s diskless servers and an extra layer of physical security in the form of a USB dongle, CounterMail proves itself to be the most secure email provider on this list.
However, if you're willing to sacrifice the dongle in exchange for better features, ProtonMail is a worthy runner-up. ProtonMail’s features include a more user-friendly interface, neat design, a lot more users (worldwide) and slightly lower monthly rates. ProtonMail’s encryption security is also top-notch.
One thing is for sure: switching from Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo to one of the email providers in this guide would definitely be a massive improvement in terms of your online privacy.