What is ProtonMail email? Is ProtonMail secure?

More and more users are tired of being systematically spied on by big tech companies. All these discontents require different solutions that provide privacy measures for the user. What ProtonMail offers us is a completely free private email account with end-to-end encryption and more.

What is ProtonMail?

ProtonMail is an email service that integrates end-to-end encryption and does not track emails. ProtonMail encrypts information and data on servers, even the company itself cannot read emails. The main idea here is to provide users with a service that guarantees complete privacy. In addition, ProtonMail does not collect any information from users and allows you to create a free email account without the need to enter your personal information.

ProtonMail is a service of Switzerland-based company Proton Technologies AG. This company was founded in 2013 by engineers and scientists Jason Stockman, Andy Yen, and Wei Sun at CERN. The company that develops ProtonMail services chose Switzerland as the location of their services due to the country’s political neutrality.

Switzerland offers the company that developed ProtonMail to stay out of the jurisdiction of the United States and the European Union. Before providing information, the Swiss Supreme Court will have to allow it. But the information would be limited, because the emails are encrypted and they theoretically have no access to them.

The company discloses the number of registered users of its service annually. At the end of 2017, it had 2 million users, and at the end of 2018, it had a total of 10 million users. In 2022, the company passed 50 million users.

ProtonMail backend source code is still of closed type. The source code of the web interface is available under open source license. They have also released the source code of their iOS smartphone and Android smartphone apps. Finally, they have also released the source code of the ProtonMail Bridge application for Windows, macOS and Linux.

How did ProtonMail come about?

The origin of this private e-mail service is due to the lack of privacy in other e-mail services. Mainly, ProtonMail was developed after Edward Snowden announced in 2013 that the NSA had intercepted all internet email from services like Gmail and Hotmail. Another reason to create this service is that Google constantly interferes with the mail service Gmail.

Basic Google services are apparently free, with plans that are more than enough for day-to-day use. However, Google is not an NGO and its employees and senior executives are paid quite well. So you need to make money somehow and one of the other ways is to inject ads into Gmail. A non-random ad is an ad based on the emails the user receives.

How does Google inject user-targeted ads in Gmail? It uses an artificial intelligence that tracks the reason and sender of the mail. This information allows Google’s artificial intelligence to show us targeted ads based on the emails we receive. This allows Google to profit at the expense of users’ private information. But Google isn’t the only company doing this. Microsoft and Yahoo do exactly the same thing.

Blocks against ProtonMail

Offering privacy to users of your service is not something that comes free for the company. He has been subjected to different attacks, whether by attacks from governments, by attacks from competition, or even by tarnishing his reputation on forums like Reddit.

In 2016, ProtonMail was intentionally blocked from Google search results by Google. This caused the private email service to grow more slowly. Currently Google seems to have lifted this veto.

On November 15, 2019, it was announced that the Government of the Republic of Belarus had blocked the IP addresses of ProtonMail and ProtonVPN. Four days later the blockade would have been lifted for unknown reasons. ProtonMail did not receive any information regarding the blocking and subsequent unblocking.

On January 29, 2020, the Russian Federal Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media Supervision Service reported that ProtonMail services within the Russian Federation were completely blocked. One reason cited is ProtonMail’s refusal to provide information about spamming accounts that contain terrorist threats, according to Russia. According to ProtonMail, they have not received any requests from the Russian authorities. The company’s Twitter account advised Russian users to bypass the restriction using a VPN or Tor.

As if that wasn’t enough, in March 2020 the company stated that the Russia ban was not particularly effective. They noted that Russian users can still access their email accounts without using a VPN. Additionally, the company plans to launch new anti-censorship features in its mobile and desktop apps, both ProtonMail and ProtonVPN.

A user on Reddit (user now deleted) posted a message on December 27, 2020, accusing ProtonMail of collaborating with the CIA and NSA. The information in question appears to have originally been posted on Privacy Watchdog, a blog devoted to systematically publishing “information” against ProtonMail.

This user points to sources of this information in another comment, which is more of a salad of things. It doesn’t really provide any evidence of the charges made. Even ProtonMail had to make a clarifying statement on its blog after a video posted on YouTube based on this misinformation.

ProtonMail Features

Now let’s take a look at the key features of this email service, which offers privacy and encryption to users.

Anonymous registration

For the free plan, you do not need to provide personal information such as name, address or date of birth. We just enter the email domain name and password we want. Before accessing the service it even tells us if we want to add an email account to recover the password in case we forget it. This step is optional.

Custom tags

Added a custom label option to assist the user by offering the ability to organize emails. It gives us the possibility to assign labels to an e-mail account so that it is automatically sent to the corresponding folder. If we remove the label from the received email, this email will not change folders.


The user interface of this email service is very simple and easy to use. In addition, ProtonMail offers us the possibility to choose between different types of themes. It allows the user to choose from 6 different themes, from lighter options to darker ones.

Additionally, it provides the ability to customize the inbox, composition panel, and icons. It offers up to two options for each of these two possibilities. This will allow you to create an interface quite similar to that offered by Gmail, in case you are used to this interface.


It offers a great internal search feature that has been greatly improved in newer versions. It lets you search for specific keywords and email addresses, the dates an email was received, and even differentiate between read and unread emails. These are not functions offered in all postal services.

Keyboard shortcuts

A number of keyboard shortcuts have been added to make this mail service easy and simple to use. Among other things, it allows to quickly save drafts, open the previous message or show the original text of the message. They differ from other mail service keyboard shortcuts, but are quite intuitive and easy to remember.

Transport vehicles

Using this new service means starting from scratch, which may not be interesting to many users. This functionality is particularly interesting for people who have a large number of contacts in their existing email account. ProtonMail has its own tool that allows you to import and export data from Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo. This feature is only available in paid versions.


In addition to a free private email account, we can also have a free ProtonVPN account. As you know, this type of service allows us to access the Internet privately through a proxy system. We do not access the Internet directly, we access the servers that access the pages for us. Both the request and the information sent are encrypted, and the information returned to us is also encrypted.


This mail service offers us access in two steps. This action adds an additional layer of security that prevents anyone who can get our password from accessing our mail. To access it you need an access code, which we will receive on our smartphone. An additional function to prevent unauthorized access.


ProtonMail offers end-to-end encryption that allows us to increase security. For this reason, all communications with third parties will be protected and in case of interception, no one will be able to read it as the information is encrypted. Also, all emails in our inbox are stored encrypted. This ensures that the creators of the service or potential attackers cannot read the information contained on the company’s servers.

This end-to-end encryption service may also be used by third parties who do not use ProtonMail. A link is sent to the recipient allowing access to the encrypted message from the browser. You can then decrypt the email using the password we provided.

PGP support

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is software for encryption of email communications. It is a fairly secure encryption method, but very complex to use. To simplify usage, it is natively integrated into ProtonMail with the addition of PGP encryption. Using PGP requires that the recipient of the message also use this encryption method. An encryption mechanism that serves between ProtonMail users and email accounts external to the service.

The PGP system is based on asymmetric key generation or the same public and private key. We can send the private key to the recipient of the mail, who can verify that they can access the mail. This prevents the private key from being exposed and you can use this mechanism as many times as you want.

Self-destruct posts

Also, the ProtonMail service offers us the possibility to set an expiration time for each email. This means that the email will be removed from the recipient’s inbox when the allotted time is up. A mechanism that works between users of this email service.

Payment method

This email system aims to offer users great privacy. Users who do not want to reveal their identity by paying with a credit/debit card or PayPal can also pay with Bitcoin. All packages of this service can be paid with this method in addition to cash, which is very interesting.