Hushmail claims to be secure and reliable email provider from Hush Communication Ltd. Well, every email provider claims to be better than its competitors and only users can tell the most reliable platform after using their services.
What is hushmail?
Hushmail is a reliable platform for sending encrypted emails if you do not have serious privacy and security needs and if you do not mind its high prices. You can easily send encrypted emails and enhance your online security. The web-based tool is easy to use and compatible with all devices.
Official website, Hushmail.com
Actually, you do not have to be a tech guru to be able to use the Hushmail platform. The platform is easy to use for beginners but quite expensive compared to other providers of encrypted email services. It also has limited features compared to other reputable email providers. This means that users do not get value for their money compared to people who use email services from other service providers. However, it can still help you to enhance online security.
About Hushmail Company
Hushmail has its headquarters in Vancouver Canada but it mother company is based in Delaware, USA. This means the American based Hush Communication Ltd has direct influence on the activities of Hushmail.
Hushmail was founded in 1999 and it has grown over the years to become of the popular providers of free encrypted email services. However, it is far from becoming the best email provider. The platform offers both paid and free plans so that users can choose packages that match their individual needs.
The fact that Hushmail is based in Canada raises questions about its approach to because the country has laws that infringe on individual privacy. The government can sniff on messages communicated via the Hushmail platform. However, there is nothing to worry about as long as you do not send messages to compromise national security. The good thing is that users are sure that the mails are safe from hackers and other online fraudsters. You can send private data via Hushmail but there is no guarantee that the government agencies cannot access them when they find it necessary.
Threats that Hushmail Claims to Help Users Avoid
Online communication is very effective but highly risky, especially when sending confidential data. Many people prefer sending encrypted emails because they are safer than plain text emails. Hushmail, in its website “about us” section, claims that it can protect its users from a variety of hazards. Unfortunately, it does not have some of the services that it claims to offer in its platform. It common online platforms to claim to be better than their competitors but that is not always the case. Some of them are bogus and use cunning marketing antics lure unknowing users to buy their products.
Users of Hushmail are required to download ‘Authentication and Encryption Design’ and ‘Hushmail Security’ white papers to read about the firm’s technical information and applications. However, most the information represented in these security and privacy document does not represent the actual services that users of Hushmail platform enjoy. The following are some of the online threats that Hushmail claims to help its clients to overcome.
It is common for hackers and scammers to intercept people’s emails to steal their data. Sometimes hackers break into servers and steal confidential data that they use to commit crimes. No online platform is 100% safe. Therefore, it is misleading for Hushmail to claim that it is completely safe. The good thing with Hushmail is that it enables users to send encrypted that is difficult for hackers and online scammers to capture and decipher. This means that your data is safe if you send it using the Hushmail platform. Hackers and online scammer cannot read your encrypted emails even if they access them because they do not have the decryption password.
One of the reasons why people send encrypted emails is to avoid surveillance by government agencies. Some people believe that the ‘Big Brother’ is watching anything they do. That is why they use technology to try to hide from government surveillance. Hushmail claims that government surveillance programs cannot access your data if you send it via their platform. Unfortunately, that is not the case because the firm as shared client’s data in their database with government agencies in the past. It is wrong for Hushmail to claim that users’ data is safe in their servers yet they can freely share the same data with government agencies at request. The truth is that your email is free from hackers and online scammer but not free from government agencies.
Most of the hackers and online scammer eavesdrops on the internet connection of their targets to read their traffics so that they can plan how to stage attacks. However, that is unlikely to happen when you use the Hushmail platform to send emails. The platform uses encryption technology to safeguard data exiting and coming to its platform. This is an important security feature, especially if you are using an office network, wireless connection or a public network.
Unauthorized Content Analysis
Some companies that offer email services scan messages sent by their clients for advertisement purposes. This is common in non-commercial email service providers such as Gmail and Yahoo. All content sent or saved via Hushmail is encrypted and only the intended recipient can access it. Therefore, unauthorized people cannot analyze user data for marketing purposes.
Most of the online scammers send messages to their targets and lure them into their traps. You get an email that looks like it is coming from someone that you know yet it is a fraud. The good thing with Hushmail is that it prevents its users from email forgery. All emails sent via the Hushmail platform come with a digital signature to confirm that they are from the actual account owner and not a scammer.
Things You Should Know
Truth be told, there are several things that Hushmail cannot do. It is wrong to assume that it provides a 100% solution to everyone concerned about online security and privacy. For instance, it does not put someone above the law. As much as Hushmail is committed to enhancing the online security of its clients, it does not safeguard them from government surveillance. The company can release user data to government agencies from the USA, Canada, and British Columbia at a request. Therefore, you can find yourself in big trouble if you use Hushmail platform for illegal activities. Government agencies can order Hushmail to provide them with encrypted data and their decryption passwords from accounts of some clients.
Hushmail claims that all data that in its servers is encrypted. It also claims that they do not have access to passphrases that recipients use to decrypt email messages. However, the service provider goes ahead contradict itself by saying that sometimes it stores passphrases for accounts identified by Canada and British Columbia. This is a clear indication Hushmail stores and can access passphrase to decrypt emails messages sent via its platform. It is common sense that the owner of a website can access and control all activities happening in their website.
Hushmail is a web-based email platform. This means that the owner of the website has full control over how it functions. This is different from installing software whereby users have substantial control over how the software runs. One of the key factors to consider before subscribing to web-based email service providers such as Hushmail is how the platform works. You rely completely on the efficiency of the website owner, unlike in the case of installed software. It is also worth noting that Hushmail does not protect its clients from viruses. This means that if your computer is infected with a virus, it can as well compromise the safety and security of your Hushmail account.
How to Get Hushmail Account
Getting a Hushmail account is simple. You just need to visit their website and follow the provided procedure to set up and email account. You also need to enter your mobile number and another email address to get the verification code. Although the move seems invasive, it helps in confirming the identity of the person creating an account with the. This means that you must entrust Hushmail with your personal data. Once you have created an account, you can choose to use the free plan or subscribe to the paid option. For those using the free plan, you get 25MB storage for a single account.
Once you subscribe to a premium account, you have access to additional features. They include 10 GB of data storage, a temporary email account, an unlimited amount of aliases, and the option to set up secure web forms. Users of the free plan also get 14 days free trial for the premium plan. You use that period to test how it functions and decide whether you can subscribe to it or continue with the free plan. Hushmail is designed as paid email service provider because users of free plan have access to limited features.
The Cost of Using Hushmail
Hushmail offers both free and paid plans and users are free to choose the plan that matches their needs. The free plan comes with limited options compared to plans, thus is prudent to go the paid plan. Individuals can still use the free plan but business users should go for paid plans so that they take advantage of the additional features. The free trial plan from Hushmail allows users to send secure and encrypted emails without paying even a dime. More so, you only get one email address and 15mb storage.
The Hushmail premium plan goes for $ 49.98 per year and comes with 10 GB of storage. A business plan goes for $ 71.88 per year or $ 5.99. Buyers of the premium plan are entitled to a total refund if they cancel their plan with two months. This means that you have adequate time to test Hushmail services even after subscribing to their paid plans.
Special Features that Users Enjoy
Hushmail does not offer superior features compared to what other service providers offer. However, its users enjoy a variety of features that enable them to send secure encrypted emails. For users looking for safe and encrypted email services, Hushmail is good for you. However, it is wise to try other service providers if you are looking for a platform that has top-notch features. Remember that users of premium and business plans have access to more features than those that use a free trial plan. However, that does make it the best in the market. The following are some of the key features that users of the Hushmail premium plan enjoy.
- Open PGP encryption
- POP and IMAP support
- 10 GB storage
- Junk/Spam box
- iPhone compatibility
- Secure forms feature
- Two-step verification
- Unlimited aliases
Hushmail Security Mechanisms
Hushmail offers email encryption services that enable users to send email securely or store them safely in its servers. However, you need to encrypt emails sent and those stored yourself because the platform does not do it automatically. One of the security features that Hushmail uses to protect its clients is by hiding their real IP address. Hushmail replaces users’ real IP address with its IP address. This makes it difficult for hackers and online sniffers to user’s IP address to steal their data. It also becomes difficult for unauthorized users to track the actual location of the sender using the IP address on the email.
However, this does not mean that you should use the platform to send data that could compromise national security. Hushmail saves users real IP address every time you log in. This means that they can share your actual IP address with the authorities when necessary. Although Hushmail uses proprietary closed source software, it does not have fully audited OpenPGP standards for email encryption. The platform also offers TLS encryption on all messages and files transmitted via its servers. The additional Certificate Pinning, Forward Secrecy and HTTP Strict Transport Layer Security ensure that messages sent by users are not intercepted before reaching the intended recipient.
Hushmail PGP encryption protects both the mail message and attachments sent via its platform and those stored in its servers. The service is available on its webmail service and its iPhone app. You can also enjoy the PGP encryption security feature when using POP3 and IMAP to access Hushmail. One of the special features with this platform is that it allows users to send secure and encrypted emails to users who do not have a Hushmail account. Non-users of Hushmail receive an email in the form of a link. They can safely access the message by opening the link and answering a security question of the email decryption code.
Generally, Hushmail is relatively safe for sending confidential data. Users that feel that they are more vulnerable should try other platforms. Every user of Hushmail has a unique username and password that they use to login to their account. You can also set two-factor authentication to safeguard the Hushmail account. This means that every user receives authorization text in the mobile phone and uses it to access their accounts. The company also locks the account if there too many attempts to access the account within a short time. It also blocks the account if a person tries to login many times using wring username/password. All these security measures aim at ensuring that an unauthorized cannot access user accounts.
Hushmail Privacy Mechanisms
There is no guarantee that users of the Hushmail platform enjoy complete privacy. This is simply because the government can monitor internet communication platforms that operate within its jurisdiction. In the case of Microsoft vs. the United States, the US Supreme court gave the USA government power to extract data from international servers when deemed necessary. The fact that Hushmail is a subsidiary of a company from the USA means that the government can access data to sent or save in Hushmail platform. Additionally, Hushmail operates from Canada, a country that collaborates with “FIVE EYES” nations to collect and share surveillance data.
Hushmail informs its clients in the policy section that it will comply with authorities if required to do so. You also need to agree to the company’s terms and conditions. This includes giving the service provider authority to access and process your data. The good thing with Hushmail is that it warms its clients about personal data that they can share authorities. It also notifies them about the personal data that they should provide when buying a subscription. That way, users can make informed choices when sharing their data with Hushmail.
Hushmail indeed collects and saves personal data from its users. Unfortunately, the firm does not have a transparency report. Therefore, users do not know the type of data that the service provider saves and for how long. Unlike most of its competitors, Hushmail does not have a warrant canary. This is a shame because its clients cannot tell the number of data requests that it receives from government agencies. Consequently, it is wrong to say that users of the Hushmail platform enjoy complete privacy.
Hushmail has violated the privacy expectations of its clients in the past. In 2007, Hushmail shared information from its user accounts with the US Feds. It even provided copies of decrypted copies of text messages so that the authorities can read it easily. The company also admitted that authorities were able to access encrypted emails from the accounts of their clients through vulnerabilities in their systems. The company did not assure its clients that such activities were unlikely to happen in the future.
In general, Hushmail is safe from hackers and online scammers. However, it does not offer complete privacy because government agencies can access messages and files sent via the Hushmail platform. It is recommendable to consider trying another platform if you are uncomfortable with the fact that government agencies from the USA, Canada and British Columbia can access your communication on Hushmail platform.
Hushmail Customer Support
Let me start by saying that Hushmail has a very informative FAQ help center. You can easily get all the information that you want to know about its products in the FAQ section. Both users of free and premium subscribers have access to the FAQ and customer support. Unfortunately, the firm does not support ticket communication. This means that you have to wait for the customer support to give you a response.
The company also does not offer 24 hours customer support. You can only reach customer support during US Pacific Time working hours. Users of premium plans can access the customer using both emails and phone calls. Users of free subscriptions can reach customer support through the email option only. Hushmail communication is good because users do not wait for more than a day without getting a response. However, clients deserve better customer support because they charge high prices compared to their competitors. It is a shame that the firm does not have a live chat option and customers do not get 24 hours support.
The fact that the platform can share user information with government agents is a clear indication that Hushmail clients do not enjoy complete privacy. Hushmail also deletes free accounts that remain dormant for three weeks. This can be frustrating if you are away for some time only to find that your account was deleted and you missed important emails.
It is also an indication that the service focuses on users who have purchased subscriptions. Unfortunately, even users of paid plans do not get value for their money. You cannot do much with Hushmail free plans expect from sending encrypted emails. You cannot even store big files in its platform without subscribing to a paid package.
Having said that, I think Hushmail is unsuitable for anyone looking for a platform that offers value for money, complete privacy and a wide selection of features. You can easily get a better platform that offers encrypted emails at affordable rates. Beginner users with minimum security and privacy concerns can still use Hushmail to send encrypted emails. However, you need to be cautious about the message and files that you send via the platform because the ‘big brother’ is watching anyway.