Are you 100% sure the information in your emails is confidential? Perhaps you’re dealing with messages that have sensitive content or you want to ensure that only the recipient has access to them. If so, then you need services beyond your basic email client to secure your privacy online. In this article, we’ll show the exact steps that you need to take to send a free secure email.
What is an Encrypted Email?
Now you might be wondering — what’s wrong with the typical free email services such as Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo Mail? After all, they claim to be secure and get the job done well enough for the average user. However, these email service providers aren't as safe as you might think. For one thing, you may have noticed that these email providers serve targeted ads for revenue. This suggests that your email activities aren't totally secure, and that third parties may have access to your data.
The aforementioned situation might not matter much to the average user. However, if you're dealing with highly sensitive information, is it worth taking the risk? If you're concerned about the privacy of your email activities, then it makes sense to seek out solutions that enable you to send and receive anonymous emails. This is where encrypted email services come in.
Simply put, an encrypted email is a form of secure data transmission wherein access is limited to the sender and recipient (end-to-end encryption). Emails are encrypted from the sender's end and can only be decrypted on the recipient’s device. This differs from your regular free email services that transmit and receive messages in clear unencrypted form.
Best Services to Send a Free Encrypted Email
Now that you've learned about encrypted emails and how they work, you might be wondering — how do I send free anonymous emails? The following service providers can help you do just that:
ProtonMail is a secure email service provider based in Switzerland focused on email privacy. They offer free private email services with limited functionalities, such as the inability to use a custom domain for your emails. To unlock the latter, users will need to upgrade to a paid account.
Even for a free private email account, ProtonMail offers plenty of useful features for anyone worried about the privacy and security of their email activities. One particular feature highlighted by most ProtonMail reviews is the ability to set an expiration period for all emails you send. After the period ends, the email will automatically delete itself, preventing any attempts to access the information in the future.
Another great thing about choosing ProtonMail as a free private email service provider is that it uses open-source data encryption protocols. You can look-up the encryption information yourself and see how it's continuously updated by data security experts from around the world. The protocol uses end-to-end data encryption protected by 2FA (two-factor authentication) to prevent unauthorized access to your email account.
Another viable option for secure email providers is a service called Tutanota. Similar to ProtonMail, they also use open-source, end-to-end email encryption and support for 2FA. They offer both free and paid subscriptions. You can use a custom domain but only after upgrading to a paid account.
So, what's the difference between Tutanota vs ProtonMail?
Well, there are a few notable differences, as cited in many Tutanota vs. ProtonMail reviews. Tutanota offers higher storage (1GB versus ProtonMail's 500MB) for their free email accounts. They can also white-label emails, which can be useful for business users who want to maintain their brand.
Do you want a free anonymous email account but don't want to pay for any premium features? If so, then Criptext might be the perfect email service for you. Unlike the two other secure email providers mentioned above, Criptext is entirely free to use for now. (The company does have plans to introduce premium subscriptions in the future.)
However, because it’s free, users do have to give up a few features. For one thing, there's no support for custom domains or the ability to white-label. There's also no 2FA, which means users will have to be extra vigilant in protecting access to their email account.
Despite the downsides, Criptext does cover all the essentials by using a similar open-source, end-to-end data encryption (signal encryption) found in many premium counterparts. They also offer an array of useful features such as the ability to unsend emails for up to an hour after they're sent and real-time email tracking that lets you know when a recipient has opened and read your email.
Best VPNs for Encrypted Emails
Indeed, a secure email service can go a long way towards making sure that no other party has access to your emails. That said, any information outside of your email service is still visible, which means that your online activities aren't truly anonymous. This is why we recommend the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service in addition to your encrypted email service.
Here are some of the best VPN services on the Internet for sending encrypted emails:
NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN services on the Internet that’s marketed towards personal use. It's compatible with all major devices and platforms, including PCs, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. The VPN service operates out of Panama, which puts it beyond the jurisdiction of International Intelligence organizations like the “Five Eyes” alliance.
CyberGhost is a VPN software company based in Romania that offers internet privacy solutions for users looking to secure their online traffic. Acquired in 2018, CyberGhost is currently a subsidiary of Kape Technologies PLC — a UK-based digital product distribution company.
Similar to most other premium VPNs, they offer secure AES-256 data encryption and an array of VPN protocols like IPSec, L2TP, and OpenVPN. They also have native VPN applications for major platforms like Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux.
ExpressVPN is a VPN service provider that operates off the British Virgin Islands and offers internet privacy and traffic encryption services to users. For 2020, TechRadar (an online publications company that provides reviews and the latest news in the tech industry), named them the best all-around VPN.
How to Send The Most Secure Email
Sending the most secure email only takes 3 simple steps:
1. Subscribe to a VPN service, and run it on your device
The first step is to obtain an excellent VPN service that encrypts all data coming in and out of your device. For this example, we'll be referencing NordVPN and, as you can see above, their VPN app makes it extremely easy to use. Just click on the “Quick Connect” button to automatically engage a VPN connection to the fastest server available from your location. Alternatively, you can choose a specific server from the list of countries available on the left menu.
Other VPNs mentioned in this list sport a similar user interface across all supported devices. This makes it easy for beginners to get started, even for someone who's never used a VPN before.
2. Open an account with your chosen secure email service provider
At this point, all internet traffic to and from your device is encrypted. The next step is to get an account with your secure email provider. For this example, we're referencing ProtonMail, as shown above. The interface is similar to that of your typical Gmail and Yahoo Mail account. From here, you can start sending and receiving encrypted emails.
3. Get peace of mind from knowing that every email you send (and receive) is totally secure!
So there you have it — everything you need to know about sending secure emails! As you may have already realized, a reliable email provider that provides end-to-end encryption is just one part of the equation. To become genuinely anonymous and maximize security, it’s best to combine an encrypted email with an excellent VPN service that covers all traces of one's online activities.