A while back when I was putting together my wrightmac.net domain I started looking at a better ways to secure my email. Free is fine, but free is letting google check out your email and figure out what to try and sell you while taking a peek at your cookies. I took a couple of evenings and started looking at what was out there. Lavabit was in limbo at the time (after shutting down over the Snowden incident) and had heard about Protonmail.com.
I signed up for the free account at Protonmail. I used the account for awhile. I liked that there is an iOS app that works quite well. They don’t have or support a desktop app yet, but they do have a nicely done web interface for desktops/laptops. After giving it a good run I decided to sign up for the paid account, just the low-end one for now. I had just delved into the world of BitCoin and since they accepted them, I tired it out. I have to say while getting the Bitcoin was kind of a pain in the butt, using them is easy peasy. And since I purchased my original $90, I spent $40, and I still have $70 something left. This virtual currency is pretty cool. I was greenbacks would do the same thing.
I like their authentication, their encryption mindset, no logging, end-to-end encryption (even outside of other ProtonMail users), and I just learned about this one self-destructing emails. The default is 28 days. Sending a secure email to a person outside of Protonmail is easy to do. When creating the message, just click on the Encrypt button on the bottom, enter in a password, and continue composing your email. When it is sent, the receiver sees an email stating they got an encrypted email and to click the button to view it. They are taken the the Protonmail server where the message is displayed. It is not ideal, but I do like that secure emails can be sent to all. All of their gear is stored in Switzerland and have very strict privacy laws where government fingers can’t peek at them.
I kept an eye on the Lavabit web site. Around the first of the year I put in my $$ to reserve a first-in-line spot to get a Lavabit address as well. A few days ago I received the email that they were ready to start taking customers and it was time to pick out my address. Wooo-hooo. The process was easy peasy. Save now I HAVE to use Thunderbird as my email client. Lavabit does support Android, Linux, and Windoze, the Apple world is left a bit out in the cold. That is alright, I have one way in, mail is secure, and I am sure that some Mac developer will save the day.
Lavabit also provides end-to-end encryption. They also encrypt all layers of the mail being sent, the transport, metadata, and the message itself. They look to provide the most secure email solution. They have developed their own email server, Magna which runs their DIME encryption service (I think I have that right). They are working on a client for iOS and other platforms called Volcano. Being a proprietary client, it will integrate tightly with their server architecture.
So why two more email accounts. My rationale is that I, I, ok I wanted them. I wanted to try out both services and wean myself off of the “free” mails services of personal information sucking giants. My Protonmail, wrightmac will be for my projects, wrightMac Studio, and the such. I will put the Lavabit account, peterhein to use as my professional address.
I commend the developers of both software packages and ecosystems on their focus on security and making it accessible to us, but it would be great to have one secure email standard everyone could depend on. I have been around this internet and computer stuff too long to think that it will get there anytime soon. In the meantime I will keep on seeing what is here and what is next.