In case you didn’t hear about it, an encrypted free email service called ProtonMail has been in beta for a few months. When they first tried going to beta last year, their servers were maxed out in the first 60 hours. This shows the amount of interest in this service.
The user can log into the service using their favorite browser, although it’s recommended that you use a modern, up-to-date browser. As you can see below, it pretty much looks like any other browser based email service.
What is different is when you try to compose an email. Other than the usual info (send to, message), you must also provide an expiration time if you are sending to a non-ProtonMail email address (see below). You can also see that attachments are currently not encrypted.
If you are receiving an encrypted message, your email will contain a link to the ProtonMail website. When you click it, you will be asked to enter the password for your message. When you enter it, you will be able to see the message. Of course, if the sender and receiver both have ProtonMail, this step is not needed.
The fact that you are able to “expire” email sent to people not using ProtonMail is a nice feature. This doesn’t stop people from making a copy and saving it in an un-secure way but at least this option is available.
Back in the day, probably only drug dealers and criminals would be interested in this service. However, now that Edward Snowden revealed that everybody’s email is being looked at by the NSA, pretty much everybody should consider using such a service. I know I’m going to use it for anything of any importance.