Swiss Encrypted Email Provider ProtonMail announced Thursday that the service is leaving beta and will be allowing open registrations for the first time in nearly two years. Concurrently, the service will be launching its free iOS and Android mobile applications globally in the Apple App store and Google Play store.
The privacy focused email service was first launched in beta in May 2014 by a group of scientists who met at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) and MIT. In the post-Snowden environment, ProtonMail was hit with overwhelming demand and forced to institute a waiting list for new accounts after signups exceeded 10,000 per day. For the past two years, ProtonMail has been invite-only and today has over 1 million users participating in its closed beta, including businesses, journalists, activists, and private individuals.
ProtonMail uses a two-factor authentication technique, meaning that you will require two passwords to log into your private ProtonMail account. The first password is to verify user identity and the second password is the decryption password (which is the key which only the sender and recipient are privy to) which ProtonMail doesn’t have any access to.
The email service features end-to-end encryption, which makes it practically impossible for governments, or even ProtonMail itself, to gain access to user messages, ensuring the highest level of security and privacy. In the past two years, the Company has been frequently thrust into the public debate over encryption and terrorism, and like Apple, has on occasion needed to fight governments to protect user privacy.
Also ProtonMail mentions on its site that it uses Open source cryptography standards which ensure that there are no back-door entries in algorithms which can be exploited by hackers or authorities. It even lets you share emails with non-ProtonMail users provided the recipient has the passphrase to decode the mail sent by a ProtonMail user.
“Strong encryption and privacy are a social and economic necessity, not only does this technology protect activists and dissidents, it is also key to securing the world’s digital infrastructure,” said ProtonMail Co-Founder Dr. Andy Yen, “this is why all things considered, strong encryption is absolutely necessary for the greater good.”