Private Email Servers vs. Commercial Email

Governments spying on our phone calls and emails? Doesn’t that smack of conspiracy theory?  Well unfortunately, it appears we are not in Kansas anymore and our governments are actually doing just that.


To some of us this is no surprise but to others the allegations made by the latest whistle-blower – Edward Snowden – were a shock. It seems that 3 years ago the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) hacked a Mexican email server giving them access to the Mexican President’s emails. And a more recent victim was Brazil – who are now fast tracking a system to keep their emails safe from espionage. And don’t even mention Australia and Indonesia!

Email encryptions compromised

Did you know that in September, the Guardian reported that British and U.S. intelligence had hacked private emails and online transactions? This piece of news was leaked by Snowden (again) with the result that no longer can emails or personal information be guaranteed safe by U.S. internet companies.

Apart from using supercomputers to bust through these encryptions, Snowden revealed a collusion between intelligence agencies and internet service providers. The NSA has been accused of paying internet companies to provide a backdoor into their encrypted data banks and the British are accused of researching methods to compromise Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

Can you keep your emails safe?

Well it gets worse – Lavabit, Snowden’s email provider as well as Silent Circle and a legal advice website Groklaw have voluntarily stopped trading due to ‘external pressures’. The first of these were privately owned U.S. email providers, but all three shut down to prevent disclosing their client’s personal information to the U.S. authorities.

So if commercial emails such as Gmail and Yahoo are not safe – are the privately owned email providers any more secure? The answer to this depends on the complexity of their encryptions and whether they can be forced to hand over your personal information to the authorities.

  • Americans seem to be flocking to email providers based overseas, trying to circumvent the NSA compromising their privacy, and one country that has benefited is Germany. Their networks are apparently far more secure than those in the U.S. and many German email providers are ramping up their security measures to encourage business from overseas subscribers.
  • Another option is Kolab – a private email provider who store all your data on their servers in Switzerland – a country long known for their security and brevity concerning personal information and transactions. Kolab guarantees server integrity and state that they will not disclose your information to anyone – unless they have to comply with the Swiss legal system that is.
  • Fastmail states that as an Australian company, it is outside NSA interference, so is only encumbered by Australian laws. It also boasts that it uses strong encryption to protect subscriber’s privacy.

So what do you do? Well the commercial internet companies – Google, Yahoo and Gmail seem to be in bed with the NSA. So if you want to ensure the privacy of your emails – well that leaves the private providers on top – you just have to decide if you can afford it.

If you want to know more about how to secure your emails – contact the experts at SnapFrozen – digital experts of the future.