StartMail considers privacy a fundamental human right. Privacy is our mission! StartMail makes email encryption easy - to help protect your digital privacy.
What is encryption?
Encryption is transforming data in such a way, that it becomes unreadable by anyone who doesn't have the key to decrypt this data. It converts the original message ("plaintext"), into a form called "ciphertext", which is simply encrypted plaintext. Decryption converts the ciphertext back into plaintext, so that it can be read. It helps ensure that the only people who can read your message, are you and your intended recipient(s) - only them.
What are the benefits of encryption?
Encryption is beneficial when carrying out any kind of sensitive transactions. For example, credit card purchases, financial, medical or any other sensitive data could be protected with encryption. Wireless communications are particularly vulnerable to snooping by third parties and could also be protected through encryption.
How does StartMail incorporate encryption and how do I get started?
There are two different methods through which you can send and receive encrypted emails with StartMail: the Password Protected Message method, and the PGP Encryption Method.
Password Protected Messages
By default, you can encrypt the contents of your email using a Password Protection method. This encryption method should be used to send emails to recipients who do not use an email service that offers encryption (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, etc.). Follow this link to learn how.
PGP Encryption Method
For superior privacy and security, encrypt the contents of your email using PGP keys. In order to encrypt and decrypt an email message through PGP encryption, both the sender and recipient of the message need to have their own public key and a private key (key pair). PGP encryption should be used to send an email to recipients who also have a Startmail email address, or use any other email service that offers encryption.
What is PGP encryption?
PGP (short for Pretty Good Privacy) is a public key encryption program originally written in 1991. Since that time, PGP has become the standard for encryption of email on the Internet. "Pretty Good Privacy" is actually a bit of a misnomer, as PGP is considered extremely reliable.
In an age where hackers, identity thieves, and even the government can listen in on unprotected communications, it becomes more vital than ever to have a fast, easy-to-use way to protect your messages from prying eyes. StartMail combines the world-renowned encryption strength of PGP with an intuitive, simple interface that can help you keep your messages private, even when communicating with other email services that don't offer StartMail's level of protection.
We always send PGP encrypted messages using PGP/MIME, which encrypts the full email message including attachments. For opening encrypted messages, we support both PGP/MIME and PGP/Inline.
How does PGP encryption work?
PGP is a form of encryption that makes use of digital key pairs. A key pair consists of two keys: a public key that is designed to be shared and used to encrypt mail, and a private key (not to be shared) that is used to decrypt mail.
Your public key is one that is designed to be shared with others and is used to encrypt messages that others want to send to you. The encrypted email is then translated into cyphertext and can only be translated back to the original message by your private key. You will never share your private key with anyone.
Here is an example:
Anna wants to communicate privately with John using PGP encryption. First Anna and John exchange their public keys. When Anna writes an email to John, she encrypts it using John’s public key. When John receives the message, he decrypts it using his private key. If John replies to Anna's message, he encrypts this message using Anna’s public key which only Anna can decrypt using her private key.