- Automatic end-to-end encryption
- Straightforward to use
- Possible to migrate emails
- iOS app
- Supports POP and IMAP
- Lack of a free plan
- Webmail doesn’t look good on mobile
- Very basic email management features
With the rise of online security concerns, various secure email services have recently popped up to join the handful of veterans who have been providing these services for years. Founded in 1999, Hushmail is certainly one of the latter. Hushmail enables its users to exchange encrypted emails through OpenPGP – the most widely-used email encryption standard – in a very simple manner. While other email services require that a password be created in order to send secure messages to contacts, encryption is automatic between Hushmail users. This provider focuses on business users, particularly within the healthcare field, as it complies with the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA). Still, it offers a personal-use package that costs $4.17 per month with a 14-day free trial. Unfortunately, it lacks some of the common features such as a calendar, but it compensates for its shortcomings with its user-friendly and straightforward interface.
Hushmail focuses on being an uncomplicated, easy-to-use email service. Regrettably, that perk comes at the expense of various features, leaving us with very basic software. It doesn't provide a calendar, a spell-checker, or email rules. It's not even possible to schedule emails or snooze your inbox. Nonetheless, it does let you migrate emails from other providers, archive as well as back up your messages, and import your contact list through a CSV file.
Though it doesn't have email templates, Hushmail provides secure webform templates that can be customized through a drag-and-drop form builder.
For general use, there are two kinds of templates: a contact form for inviting others to initiate a secure conversation with you and a file transfer form for receiving confidential documents and other files. Since Hushmail focuses mainly on healthcare businesses, there are eight extra templates ranging from a new client questionnaire to an appointment request form. Furthermore, there’s the option to start with a blank page and build the document from scratch.
Privacy & Security
Hushmail does a commendable job of explaining where its protection begins and ends. Its website is created in a way that leads you to the page describing how its security works. Moreover, it's possible to download two thorough PDF files from that page, covering security, authentication, and encryption.
After the user supplies a passphrase to create their account, the RSA 2048-bit encryption keys are generated and stored in a symmetrical encrypted OpenPGP message. The only way to get access to the keys is by decrypting the message with the passphrase. In theory, this would fully protect your conversations, since Hushmail only has access to the hashed passphrase used for authentication. However, this is not entirely true: Hushmail is not above the law, and neither are its users. Therefore, Hushmail may store the full passphrase of a user's email and hand it over to the authorities if a court order obliges them to do so. Nevertheless, if you’re not doing anything illegal, Hushmail won't touch your inbox.
Sending encrypted emails on Hushmail is a breeze. When sending emails to other Hushmail users, you just need to hit the “send” button. For users outside Hushmail, you’ll need to tick the “encrypted” box first. After that you can send the message as is, making the recipient open the message on a secure web page. Moreover, you can add an extra layer of security by adding a security question.
Besides encryption, Hushmail scans all emails for viruses, providing an even further level of security. This feature doesn't replace comprehensive antivirus protection of course, since it only searches for viruses in your email boxes.
Hushmail only has an application for iOS. For other platforms, the only way to use this email provider is through its webmail. However, since it includes POP and IMAP, you can set up the email service on Android or desktops through third-party applications.
Hushmail's webmail layout is minimalist and a bit dated. It also doesn't help that there are no themes to choose from. On the bright side, it's incredibly user-friendly and there are a few things that can be changed within the configurations, such as removing the formatting toolbar or turning off colors and formatting.
On mobile, the webmail admittedly doesn’t look great. First, the mobile version doesn’t open automatically. Instead, users need to find the “mobile” button while still on the desktop version and click it. Things don’t get much better when the mobile version opens. Not only does the layout feel even more outdated, but there are no options to change any settings.
For individuals, there is only one tier and one payment option with Hushmail: $4.17 per month with annual payments. Hushmail no longer offers a limited free plan. On a more positive note, you get a 14-day free trial to use before purchasing the software, and afterwards Hushmail offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.
If you want to get your own domain, you'll have to go for one of Hushmail’s business plans. The price is $5.99 per user per month, plus a one-time setup fee of $9.99. Hushmail has specific plans for healthcare, law, and nonprofit businesses.
It's possible to purchase Hushmail by using a credit card – Visa, Master Card, or American Express – or through PayPal.
Hushmail offers more than the usual communication channels for its email services. Besides email, it's also possible to reach their support team through phone and fax. Unfortunately, there’s no 24/7 customer support: you'll need to contact them during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific). Hushmail is also present on Twitter and Facebook, but they’re not especially active and may take several days to respond through these channels. Fortunately, there’s an FAQ page that can be browsed for answers before attempting to reach out for support. Hushmail provides responses for both personal and business accounts, covering topics from the basics to how its encryption works.
There is no way around the fact that Hushmail offers a very basic email service. It doesn't come with several features that we can't seem to live without nowadays, such as a calendar, a taskbar, or email rules. Nevertheless, it's straightforward and makes sending encrypted emails child’s play. We would prefer that it had a zero-access architecture like a few of its competitors. Nonetheless, it's commendable that Hushmail communicates in a very understandable way about how it will secure its users' data. It's also great that Hushmail scans all emails for viruses and lets users set two-factor authentication, giving a few extra security layers. And although it seems that it no longer offers a free plan, users can test-drive Hushmail through its 14-day free trial and for an additional 60 days through its money-back guarantee.