When you use Siri, or predictive text on your email, or have something snagged in your spam filter, you can thank Enron. No, really: In 2003, California regulators released the Enron Corpus, half a million email messages from senior management at the disgraced energy company. Everything from flirty messages to spam was just dumped onto the internet.
That's set the tone for email privacy, unfortunately. Between data breaches and questionable information sharing policies, it feels like everyone's reading your email. Fortunately, StartMail, from the team behind the 64-million-user-strong encrypted search engine StartPage, can keep your email private with ease, and for a limited time, you can get a year's subscription for just $29.99, 49% off the usual price.
Wait, Isn't My Email Already Encrypted?
It is true that your email is technically encrypted, using Transport Layer Security (TLS.) And that's fine as far as it goes, but there are several vulnerabilities in standard email clients that can compromise your privacy.
The email addresses: Run your email address through a search engine, and you might be surprised at the results that come back. The same is true for anyone you email. Even a clever username isn't secure, as former FBI director James Comey learned the hard way when his Twitter was uncovered by a curious journalist.
The inboxes: Anybody who penetrates networks for a living, white hat or black hat, knows that the weakest link in the chain is us. Usually, there's just a password between strangers and your inbox, and you're counting on everyone you correspond with to have as strong of a password as you do.
The servers: Computers can't read the intent of servers. "Man in the middle" attacks can sit between you and your recipients, reading everything you send.
The providers: Many free email accounts may include provisions that compromise your privacy to some degree. For example, they may promise not to share any identifying information, but that just means they'll anonymize your data before using it. And "deanonymization" is only becoming more common.
How StartMail Fixes Email
StartMail addresses these problems with a number of different tools.
Easy-to-use: StartMail is designed to work with the email clients you already have, with IMAP/STMP compatibility, no software to download or install, and no requirements to use a specific domain. You can set up your personal website for secure mail, using your own domain.
Legal protections: StartMail is located in the Netherlands, and as such complies with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, one of the strongest privacy laws in the world. In addition, Dutch law has strict privacy requirements, adding an extra layer of security.
Disposable email addresses: Whether you just want to read an article without getting more spam, or want to talk with someone from a dating app without exposing more data than you're comfortable with, StartMail offers disposable email addresses that can be used once or for up to two weeks. And there's no limit on the email addresses you can use, so you can keep multiples running and shut them down at your convenience.
Simple encryption options: When you send an email to another StartMail user, it's automatically encrypted from "end to end." In other words, even if they wanted to (and they don't), the StartMail team couldn't read your messages. For emails to users not on StartMail, you can either use public-key encryption or have an email sent from StartMail that they can only open with a password that you can send via another channel.
Protecting your privacy should be easy. For just $29.99, StartMail will help keep your privacy to yourself for an entire year.
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