How to Get the Most Secure Email

Keeping your email secure starts with picking a secure email provider, and major email providers can fall short.
February 2, 2022

Having secure email is crucial to protect your data, reputation, and revenue. Since large-scale email attacks and data breaches are increasingly common, you may wonder if your communications are truly secure. If an email provider fails to offer real security, you’re at risk of account compromise

There are several steps to find a secure email service beyond just picking a provider. We’ll cover the most important points to get the most secure email.

How Secure Email Works

The best secure email services are simply conventional email but with crucial security enhancements. The technology and function remain the same, but a secure email server will take proactive steps to prevent your account from being compromised. From the front-end, nothing changes. You can still send messages to named and unnamed addresses.

Anyone can refer to themselves as having the most secure email available. Many email provider giants already claim to be safe, despite falling short of key security standards. Providers that claim they offer the best secure email often point to their requirements for strong passwords and the use of two-factor authentication. While these are helpful security measures, email security must go much further than simply preventing unauthorized access to accounts. They must also keep user data and identities safe.

Here are four key features that a secure email provider should have beyond just preventing breaches:

  • Unable to read your email conversations

  • In a jurisdiction that is not required to share data with government intelligence agencies

  • Uses crowdsourced technology

  • Unable to collect data on its users

What Makes an Email Secure?

Understanding how the best secure email services go above and beyond the rest is essential to choosing top-tier secure email providers. While many email providers claim a strong password and two-factor authentication protects your email from every type of attack, this simply isn’t true. You need a solution that defends you on both the frontend and the backend.

Let’s take a look at the foundations of what makes an email secure.

End-to-End Encryption

End-to-end encryption is the cornerstone of a secure email server. Gmail, for example, fails to offer end-to-end encryption between your device and its servers. Any information you send is not encrypted when it reaches Gmail’s servers. The private information you send exists on the Gmail server in plaintext. If your data is stolen, thieves will have no problems reading your messages. That’s why data should be encrypted on the server—because it’s useless to any cyber attackers.

It’s not only cybercriminals you need to be aware of. Until 2017, Google used to scan all Gmail messages and their contents for advertising purposes. While they state they no longer scan emails for targeted ads, that doesn’t mean they don’t scan your emails for other purposes.

Location

Email security varies depending on the location of the email service. Most secure email providers are located in neutral or remote countries, and the same goes for VPNs. For example, ProtonMail, a favorite among security-conscious email users, is located in Switzerland. Why does this matter? Email services in the United States can hand over your data to intelligence agencies due to a search warrant or subpoena.

Any country part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance could theoretically pass your data to governments, including foreign ones. For maximum email security, consider avoiding any email service based in the U.S., Australia, the UK, Canada, and New Zealand.

Metadata

The safest email server will strip out as much metadata as possible to ensure it preserves your privacy and security. Plus, they won’t harvest this data to use within their business operations.

In some cases, you may find that an email provider uses tools like Pretty Good Privacy. These built-in integrations lock the contents of messages. The only way to access the content is to use the private key disseminated only by you. Without this key, your messages will appear as unintelligible gibberish.

What is a Secure Email Address?

A secure email address includes several characteristics that make it difficult for a hacker to access, including:

  • Strong Passwords: Your password should consist of numbers, letters, and special symbols. Alternate the letter cases to make your password even more difficult to access.

  • Two-Factor Authentication: Simply knowing the password to an account should not be enough to access it. 2FA may use biometrics, your phone number, or a dedicated authenticator device to add an extra layer of security.

  • HTTPS: HTTPS is the highest level of browser encryption available. Look at your address bar on your chosen email provider. If you don’t see “HTTPS,” you need a new email provider.

Securing your email address is also about practicing good security habits. You can have the safest email provider in the world, but it counts for nothing if your computer has no anti-virus system in place or you regularly visit unsafe websites.

Remember, a secure email address puts the ball in your court. It ensures that you don’t experience a loss of data due to factors outside of your control.

Why is it Important to Have a Secure Email Provider?

Using a secure email provider is a vital step to ensure that your data is secure from both cybercriminals and the government.

The FBI reports that 44% of all cybercrime losses in 2020 came from email compromise and phishing. Email remains the simplest way to commit a cyberattack. These figures alone demonstrate why you need to look into a secure email service. Secure email providers make it as tough as possible for you to fall victim to a cyberattack.

There are also serious concerns regarding the unauthorized transmission of data. Governments are increasingly encroaching on the privacy of individuals operating online. Unfortunately, email providers located in certain jurisdictions have no choice but to comply.

Notable incidents in recent years demonstrate that your email data is vulnerable. Expect laws to tighten and favor governments and intelligence agencies over individual citizens. Act now to move to a secure email service and preserve your security and privacy long into the future.

The Benefits of a Secure Email Provider

Why is it in your best interests to find the most secure email provider? There are numerous benefits you get by partnering with an email provider that respects your need for private communication:

  • Protect your information: From intellectual property to financial records, a truly secure emailing company ensures your information is protected from shadowy operators and themselves.

  • Compliance: Businesses have legal obligations to protect sensitive data. Ensuring compliance with GDPR, CFPB, CCPA, and HIPAA is tricky, but with the right email service, you can make compliance that little bit easier.

  • Be cost-efficient: Many email providers offer integrations that negate the need for expensive software or additional network security hardware. Switching now can save you money in the long run.

  • Avoid replay attacks: Message replay attacks involve the interception of communications and fraudulently delaying or resending it. Encryption reduces the chances of a successful replay attack occurring.

  • Reduce Identity Theft: When you send sensitive content via email, you’re taking a chance every time. Full end-to-end encryption greatly diminishes the chances of your personal identifying information from becoming exposed.

  • Authentication: Extra authentication requirements offered by the safest email providers reduce the chances of malicious actors performing attacks, such as key stealing and impersonation.

As you can see, there are many reasons to reflect on your choice of email service. Take proactive action and reap the benefits of the most secure email platform today.

How to Vet Email Providers

Look beyond the mainstream choices the vast majority of people use. There are lots of smaller email brands that it can be difficult to determine which one to go with. Let’s run through the questions you should ask when looking for a secure email provider:

  • Do they have end-to-end encryption, and does it also cover attachments?

  • Where is their email server located, and what are the privacy laws of that jurisdiction?

  • What are the security and privacy policies of the provider?

  • Does this emailing service come with useful features, such as inbox search and calendars?

  • Is there support for PGP?

  • Can I easily import my existing contacts and messages when I migrate to their service?

  • Are there any dedicated apps that provide convenience and quality of life benefits?

Vetting email providers does take time, but with email being a pillar of communication, it’s well worth investing time in the process.

Secure Email: The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, email security issues are not going away in our fast-paced online world. But burying your head in the sand and hoping you don’t become a victim is not a viable strategy. Changing your email provider is one of the best steps you can take to protect your data.

Businesses also need to think about their security. Even the best emailing platforms need advanced protection. Abnormal Security is the integrated solution that protects you against all the most common emailing attacks, including spear-phishing attempts. To find out more about how Abnormal Security prevents advanced attacks from coming via your email account, request your free demo today.

How to Get the Most Secure Email

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