Messages are encrypted at all times
Messages are stored on ProtonMail servers in encrypted format. They are also transmitted in encrypted format between our servers and user devices. Messages between ProtonMail users are also transmitted in encrypted form within our secure server network. Because data is encrypted at all steps, the risk of message interception is largely eliminated.
Zero Access to User Data
Your encrypted data is not accessible to us
ProtonMail’s zero access architecture means that your data is encrypted in a way that makes it inaccessible to us. Data is encrypted on the client side using an encryption key that we do not have access to. This means we don’t have the technical ability to decrypt your messages, and as a result, we are unable to hand your data over to third parties. With ProtonMail, privacy isn’t just a promise, it is mathematically ensured. For this reason, we are also unable to do data recovery. If you forget your password, we cannot recover your data.
Open Source Cryptography
Time-tested and trusted encryption algorithms
We use only secure implementations of AES, RSA, along with OpenPGP. Furthermore, all of the cryptographic libraries we use are open source. By using open source libraries, we can guarantee that the encryption algorithms we are using do not have clandestinely built in back doors. ProtonMail’s open source software has been thoroughly vetted by security experts from around the world to ensure the highest levels of protection.
Incorporated in Switzerland
All user data is protected by the Swiss Federal Data Protection Act (DPA) and the Swiss Federal Data Protection Ordinance (DPO) which offers some of the strongest privacy protection in the world for both individuals and corporations. As ProtonMail is outside of US and EU jurisdiction, only a court order from the Cantonal Court of Geneva or the Swiss Federal Supreme Court can compel us to release the extremely limited user information we have.
Hardware Level Security
Full disk encryption and storage in secured datacenters
We have invested heavily in owning and controlling our own server hardware at several locations within Switzerland so your data never goes to the cloud. Our primary datacenter is located under 1000 meters of granite rock in a heavily guarded bunker which can survive a nuclear attack. This provides an extra layer of protection by ensuring your encrypted emails are not easily accessible to any third parties. On a system level, our servers utilize fully encrypted hard disks with multiple password layers so data security is preserved even if our hardware is seized.
No tracking or logging of personally identifiable information
Unlike competing services, we do not save any tracking information. By default, we do not record metadata such as the IP addresses used to log into accounts. As we have no way to read encrypted emails, we do not serve targeted advertisements. To protect user privacy, ProtonMail does not require any personally identifiable information to register.
Self Destructing Messages
With ProtonMail, emails are no longer permanent
You can set an optional expiration time on ProtonMail’s encrypted emails, so they will be automatically deleted from the recipient’s inbox once they have expired. This technology works for both emails sent to other ProtonMail users, and encrypted emails sent to non-ProtonMail email addresses. Similar to SnapChat, we’ve added a way for you to have ephemeral communication.
SSL Secured Connections
Swiss SSL to secure your connection
We use SSL to secure communication between our server and your computer. Message data between our server and your computer is already sent encrypted, but we use SSL to add another layer of protection and to ensure that the web page your browser loads is not tampered with by a third party intercepting your traffic in a MITM (Man in the Middle) attack.
Our SSL certificate authority (CA) is QuoVadis Trustlink Schweiz AG, a leading Swiss SSL certificate issuer. Using a Swiss based CA ensures that our CA’s SSL infrastructure is not under the control of US or EU government agencies. To allow extremely security conscious users to further verify that they are in fact connecting to our server, we have also released the SHA1 and SHA-256 hash for our SSL public key.
Securely communicate with other email providers
Even your communication with non-ProtonMail users can be secure
We support sending encrypted communication to non-ProtonMail users via symmetric encryption. When you send an encrypted message to a non-ProtonMail user, they receive a link which loads the encrypted message onto their browser, which they can decrypt using a passphrase that you have shared with them. You can also send unencrypted messages to Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook and others, just like regular email.
Easy to Use
Comprehensive Security for Everyone
We created ProtonMail because we found that none of the existing secure email services available today are sufficiently secure. However, a secure service like ProtonMail cannot improve the security landscape if it is so difficult to use, nobody can use it. From the start, we designed ProtonMail with a strong emphasis on usability. As a result, ProtonMail is very easy to use. There is nothing to install, and no encryption keys to manage, if you can use Gmail, Thunderbird, or Outlook, you can use ProtonMail.
Today, August 24th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes secret documents from the ExpressLane project of the CIA. These documents show one of the cyber operations the CIA conducts against liaison services — which includes among many others the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The OTS (Office of Technical Services), a branch within the CIA, has a biometric collection system that is provided to liaison services around the world — with the expectation for sharing of the biometric takes collected on the systems. But this ‘voluntary sharing’ obviously does not work or is considered insufficient by the CIA, because ExpressLane is a covert information collection tool that is used by the CIA to secretly exfiltrate data collections from such systems provided to liaison services.
ExpressLane is installed and run with the cover of upgrading the biometric software by OTS agents that visit the liaison sites. Liaison officers overseeing this procedure will remain unsuspicious, as the data exfiltration disguises behind a Windows installation splash screen.
The core components of the OTS system are based on products from Cross Match, a US company specializing in biometric software for law enforcement and the Intelligence Community. The company hit the headlines in 2011 when it was reported that the US military used a Cross Match product to identify Osama bin Laden during the assassination operation in Pakistan.