Last week I put together a post on an easy to use encrypted e-mail service known as Voltage SecureMail Cloud. I showed how this service allows you to send an encrypted e-mail to just about anyone without worrying about what kind of e-mail client/server they use, or fussing with the particulars of PGP versus S/MIME, and generating/buying, exchanging and installing the appropriate keys. I made the case that service from Voltage is ideal when you have to send encrypted e-mail to many different people; especially people for whom you don’t have a public key.
After I made the post however I started to wonder if there were alternatives that could also offer similar ease of use and security. Naturally, I found a few options and I thought I’d describe them briefly in this post.
I read somewhere recently that encrypted e-mails now make up less than 5% of all e-mails sent worldwide every day. That means there is a lot of data floating around out there that can be mined by those with the tools and ability to exploit it. It also means that if you start using any form of e-mail encryption whatsoever you are suddenly at the head of the class! Just like locking your doors and taking the keys to the car, any form of e-mail encryption raises the bar just high enough so that most hackers and others that might do you harm will simply move on to easier targets!
On that note, I’m purposely NOT going to delve into the relative security of one service versus another since the goal here is to get people to adopt and use ANY system that offers security better than a simple open e-mail.
So here is a list, in no particular order, of some of the e-mail encryption services that might offer some ease of use advantages over the traditional PGP and S/MIME software. The information listed was garnered from the web sites. Please don’t take my word for it, go and check it all out for yourself. Note that I have not tried these services and I am not endorsing them. I am only suggesting them as possible options that would give you better security than what you might have now; which is most likely nothing! I urge you to carefully review their terms of service and to do some testing to decide if they truly meet your needs.
- Offers free associate account that is limited to 5 sends per month. That’s impractically small except for purposes of trying out the service.
- Business edition account starts at $10/month.
- Works with any OS or browser, even mobile devices
- Outlook integration
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Offers free @hushmail.com account.
- Premium, Desktop and Forms accounts range from $35 to $85 per year and offer encrypted file storage and e-mail aliases.
- Encrypted e-mails sent to users without hushmail accounts are sent using a secret question / answer. This could be cumbersome if you send to a lot of people outside hushmail’s system.
- Works with any OS, e-mail client, webmail, mobile devices
- Outlook integration
- Standard subscription roughly $3/month, Premium subscription for roughly $5/month
- User must install proprietary S-Mail application on the local machine. The application is distributed as a zipped .exe file.
- Despite claims of Linux compatibility, as near as I can determine the .exe only works on Windows machines! If I am correct on this, then you won’t be able to send encrypted e-mail to people using other systems.
- Works with various e-mail clients (e.g. Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird) but only on Windows OS. This could be a drawback if you need to send encrypted e-mail to people that use other operating systems.
- Outlook integration
- Free for personal use. Business versions available.
If you have opinions on these or other similar services please feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks!
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