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Question & Answer Encryption Method
Last modified on 16 July 2018 10:04 PM

Q&A Encryption (Question and Answer Encryption) is a key privacy feature of StartMail that lets you scramble your email messages so third parties can't read them. When you use Q&A Encryption, your message can't be opened unless your recipient can correctly answer a question you ask.

Q&A Encryption protects your privacy when you write to friends with insecure email accounts and who don't use PGP encryption. It protects your communications from being read by your friend's email provider, and keeps other snoops from spying on your messages. 

For a video on Q&A Encryption which explains the steps outlined below, please click here.

Here's how to send an email message encrypted using Q&A Encryption:

1. Click the  button

2. Enter your recipient(s) and a subject (optional)

3. Check "Encrypt this email" and supply the following, highlighted in the red box below:

  • Question (something your recipient will know but others will not, or a password you and your friend set up in advance)
  • Answer (not case-sensitive)
  • Expires in (after this period of time, your message will self-destruct)
  • Language (default is English, but click for additional options)


 4. Write your message as you would normally and click  when you are finished.


When you use Q&A Encryption, your recipient does not receive your actual message, but instead gets a notification email with a link to our StartMail servers where they can decrypt and view your message. Only your email address and the subject are identified in the notification we send.

When your recipient clicks the link in the email (see example circled below), their browser takes them to a StartMail page in the Netherlands, where they are asked to answer your question or enter the pre-arranged password. When they answer correctly, they can read and reply to your message. The beauty of this solution is that all communication takes place on the StartMail server, and is fully shielded by encryption.

If your friend replies to your email, no record of their message is stored in the Sent folder of their own email account, since their reply takes place on our StartMail Q&A server. The only "trail" that exists in your friend's email program is the notification message.


To learn how to send an encrypted email to someone who also uses PGP encryption, please read this article.

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