Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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Several private email services exist, and people can use them to keep their email messages private. But government pressure on these services is strong. Some have had to hand over user data while others have opted to shut down to protect user data. Two such services, Lavabit and Silent Circle, have joined forces under a new banner to develop a more secure email protocol. Together with an email VPN, this Dark Mail Alliance can give users more stable email security.
Dark Mail Alliance
Dark Mail Alliance was forged to look into developing a new protocol to use for securing emails. This non-profit organization also maintains the open source code for this new and more secure protocol. Lavabit and Silent Circle are encouraging other companies to join them in developing the XMPP-based protocol. We have yet to see the details, but they have revealed that the SMTP protocol has no place in their secure email design. Jon Callas, Silent Circle’s CTO, has also revealed that they are redesigning the transport. This is a necessary change being that the current transport is 40 years old. Internet behavior has changed drastically since then, and this will help them to give users the security they need to keep messages private.
We are told to expect the Dark Mail Alliance new email protocol by the middle of next year. For many, this is a very long wait indeed. However, it also shows internet users that the Dark Mail Alliance is really putting a lot into this project. For one, they are creating the protocol to be compatible with other email services. No one really wants to have to go through exporting everything to a new provider. So they designed the new email protocol so it could be added to users’ existing services. Even Gmail users will be able to secure their emails. They are also incorporating end-to-end encryption, perfect forward secrecy, and other security measures. These are complex technologies, so after putting the protocol together, they will have to create an implementation that any average internet user can manipulate with ease. When you think about it, 6 months isn’t so long to wait for a secure email protocol that is looking to be this awesome.
While waiting for the launch of Dark Mail Alliance’s secure email protocol, users can still stay secure behind their email VPNs. An email VPN is designed to encrypt user data so no one but the recipient can decrypt it. Existing email protocols are outdated and dangerous. Users don’t have the power to generate security keys. And these keys can be decrypted by others. An email VPN can keep user data safe until email architecture can be rebuilt to deliver encryption power into the hands of users. But be careful about your email provider. You should only use an email service you trust because whatever you email, you are allowing your provider access.
Read More on Dark Mail Alliance:
Dark Mail Alliance Website
Silent Circle on DMA
Lavabit on DMA
How Dark Mail Alliance hopes to roll out virtually NSA-proof email next year
Dark Mail Alliance turns to Kickstarter to fund private mail initiative