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Free Email Security 2010
May 1, 2010 3:23 PM   Subscribe

What is the best email provider for security and privacy? Requirements and more info inside.

So I need to get a new free email, but its been years since I have researched the free email providers. While I know how good Gmail, I'm not confortable with the the big G to have all my data. My requirements are:
a. longevity - I expect to use this account for many years so I don't want any service that might just disappear on me.
b. private - I'm totally not digging Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail attempts to become more social. I don't want to have a profile, buzz or whatever online. I only care for email
c. security - Must have encryption. Might use it with a desktop client and with iPhone mail app. Tips for keeping it secure appreciated.
d. must not close if I dont check it for a couple of months - dont want to have to worry of the account becoming inactive/deleted if I don't connect to it frequently

Thanks a lot for your help.
posted by Aya to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
http://www.hushmail.com/ sounds like something you'd be interested it. It's been used by whistleblowers and the like to email sites like WikiLeaks without giving up their privacy.

I'm not too sure but the encryption or using it on the IPhone.
posted by deacon_blues at 3:36 PM on May 1, 2010


Meant to say about, not but. And there is apparently some level of encryption, also virus/spam scanning built in.
posted by deacon_blues at 3:37 PM on May 1, 2010


You could buy your own domain.
posted by Houstonian at 3:37 PM on May 1, 2010


Thomas Drake used Hushmail, so I'm not sure this is the best time to be recommending them. Personally I prefer just to run my own mailserver out of my closet off my DSL line.
posted by rhizome at 3:38 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


@Houstonian

I considered using my own domain, but I don't want to for 2 reasons: using my own domain would make it unprivate as anybody could whois my info and if I ever lost the domain then I would lose access to my mail.
posted by Aya at 3:40 PM on May 1, 2010


@deacon_blues

Thanks for your answer, looks like a good option and they work on iPhone according to their site. Have you used it before?
posted by Aya at 3:42 PM on May 1, 2010


I have not personally used it but someone who used to be very close to me used it for internationally illegal purposes (emails to India, etc) and never once had a problem with privacy.
posted by deacon_blues at 3:49 PM on May 1, 2010


I've been happy with lavabit. They use asynchronous encryption, so even if they wanted to, they couldn't read your email, but you have to use their paid accounts to get that level of privacy. But it means they can't ever turn over your email to a third party. It's quite affordable and full featured though, and after looking around, I decided their philosophy and practices were the best.
posted by jardinier at 5:12 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


@jardinier : Thanks, I will check them out.
posted by Aya at 5:52 PM on May 1, 2010


deacon_blues: "http://www.hushmail.com/ sounds like something you'd be interested it. It's been used by whistleblowers and the like to email sites like WikiLeaks without giving up their privacy.

I'm not too sure but the encryption or using it on the IPhone.
"

Hushmail will close after a short period of not having logged in and there have been serious questions raised about its security. Safe Mail is widely recognised as a better bet and won't close your account automatically.

However, I have to argue that Gmail is still your best bet. It's trivial to turn of Buzz and related services and combining it with GPG, it easily meets all your requirements.
posted by turkeyphant at 10:26 PM on May 1, 2010


I'm going to echo Gmail as well. I haven't tried the others, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use Gmail encrypted both in my own clients as well as over the web (which of course defaults to https). I have my own domain, which is registered "privately" (that is, my personal information is not exposed to whois queries, but instead the registrar's name), and after running my own mail server on Slicehost for a good six months I realized that running my own mail server was a major pain in the ass and bought a yearly ($50 for one domain) account with Google apps, and now I don't think about it.

If you're not cool with Google you won't be cool with Google. But it meets the requirements for security, I assume longevity (hey, how do you know for any of these?) and I believe for inactivity as well--especially if you're paying $50 a year. As far as the privacy requirement, such as you described it: I don't ever think about the other services that Google offers either, especially since I mostly use mail clients like Thunderbird, and just ignore anything/turn off anything else that may appear when I use the web app here and there.
posted by dubitable at 11:57 PM on May 1, 2010


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