If navigating the dark web wasn’t hard enough it’s a constant struggle to find trusted lines developed for secure communications. The dark web, or deep web as many wrongly refer to it, is where Tor-accessible domains reside, you know the .onion URL’s. It’s not that finding secure communications on Tor is a struggle, but it’s hard to find private lines not run by a rogue entity. Below we have organized a list of secure dark web email providers. Please remember that no email provider should ever be deemed secure, meaning always use encryption and keep your opsec to its highest level.
All of these email providers are only accessible via the Tor Browser, an anonymity tool designed to conceal the end users identity and heavily encrypt their communication, making those who use the network anonymous. Tor is used by an array of people including journalists, activists, political dissidents, government-targets, whistleblowers, the government and just about anyone since it’s an open-source free tool. Tor provides a sense of security in high-risk situations and is often a choice among high-profile targets. However, many use it day-to-day as it provides identity concealment seamlessly.
Below we have listed emails that are not only secure but utilize no type of third-party services, including any type of hidden Google scripts, fonts or trackers. In the list below we have gone ahead and pasted the full .onion domain for verification and added a link to any services who also offer a clearweb portal. However, all communications sent through clearweb domains should be presumed insecure unless properly encrypted, then still it’s questionable.
Here is a list of secure dark web email providers (listed in order of trust – Updated: May 23, 2017):
- ProtonMail – protonirockerxow.onion
- Torbox – torbox3uiot6wchz.onion
- Bitmessage – bitmailendavkbec.onion, clearweb
- Mail2Tor – mail2tor2zyjdctd.onion
- RiseUp – nzh3fv6jc6jskki3.onion, clearweb
- Cock.li (NSFW) – cockmailwwfvrtqj.onion, clearweb
- Lelantos – lelantoss7bcnwbv.onion paid accounts only
- Autistici – wi7qkxyrdpu5cmvr.onion, clearweb
- AnonInbox – ncikv3i4qfzwy2qy.onion paid accounts only
- VFEMail – 344c6kbnjnljjzlz.onion, clearweb
- Dead: Sigaint – sigaintevyh2rzvw.onion
Top 5 Dark Web Email Providers
1. ProtonMail – protonirockerxow.onion
While it may seem odd that a non-dark web exclusive email provider would be number one on the list, Protonmail has rightfully earned their spot with notable security measures and an HTTPS secure dark web portal. Protonmail has made it’s way to the top of the list for the extensive security measures they employ across their network. The only downside to Protonmail is you cannot register with a .onion address, making all emails default clearweb domains.
Protonmail does enforce several security measures to make up for the clearweb domain. For beginners, everything on Protonmail is end-to-end encrypted, a method that allows only a single end user to see the contents. With all contents being end-to-end encrypted, only you can see your email. On top of this, Protonmail ensures that they run their emails in a zero-knowledge environment. Meaning even if they wanted to read your communications, they would not physically be able to, only you can unlock the encrypted contents.
Protonmail is not only secure on the software side but on the hardware side as well. For one, Protonmail operates out of the jurisdiction of Switzerland, a country with some of the strongest privacy laws throughout the globe. Not only do they operate out of Switzerland, they also own and operate all their own hardware. According to Protonmail, they use strictly dedicated servers they own at select data centers scattered throughout Switzerland. No VPS or shared servers, Protonmail strictly employs dedicated hardware in the country they operate out of.
- Everything end-to-end encryted
- Zero knowledge
- Dedicated hardware
- Operates out of the jurisidction of Switzerland
- Symetric encryption for seamless secure communication
- Only clearnet @protonmai.com emails.
One last great feature about Protonmail is they allow you to easily send encrypted emails to other secure email providers through symmetric encryption. Allowing you to communicate with others using secure email without having to worry about the clearnet or go through the hassle of manually encrypting everything. Lastly, they enforce HTTPS on their .onion domain, a rare technique that is perfect to ensure you always visiting the official Protonmail dark web domain.
One upside and downside to Protonmail is the owners are not anonymous, and they do operate a real business. Protonmail won’t just fail and instantly fall dark like a lot of dark web providers have done in the past. While there are many benefits to the owners remaining anonymous, it can be a huge burden if the company simply decides to pull its plug. To ensure your always visiting the official Protonmail dark web website, refer to their Tor page on their clearweb domain: protonmail.com/tor
2. Torbox – torbox3uiot6wchz.onion
A rather simple provider is Torbox, a TOR-only service. This means that no clearweb connections are made, making this email darkweb exclusive. If the recipient isn’t using a Torbox-certified provider, the email will not be sent, even if it’s darkweb compatible. Currently Torbox supports emails to and from lelantos.org, maskedmail.com, mail2tor.com, mailtor.net and safe-mail.net.
Torbox is a strictly Tor email and has no intention of releasing a clearweb friendly service in the near future. Torbox is 100% free and offers 25 megabytes at signup and offers more disk space for bitcoin donations. All email data stored on servers is encrypted due to the server itself using encrypted partitions.
As the name suggests, Torbox is a Tor-exclusive email, where no packet or email header will ever hit the clearweb.
3. Bitmessage – bitmailendavkbec.onion
Bitmessage is another free, Tor-friendly and privacy conscious email provider. Throughout the domain, Bitmessage employs zero type of tracking or advertisements. Though they do collect a few stats about the service including the amount of active users, the number of emails sent, the number of emails received, and few server logs (IMAP, SMPT, etc.) though none of this information is ever personally identifying.
For security Bitmessage employs a transport system that runs inside a sandbox, disallowing information to leave except through previously defined channels. The data on disks is encrypted and emails are actually deleted from the system when you delete them from your account. While the service is Tor-friendly it is not Tor-exclusive and allows you to not only connect, but send and receive messages through both their clearweb and dark web portals.
However, one downside is they require you to verify with a google-owned captcha service on their signup page. Other than that all content is locally hosted.
4. Mail2Tor – mail2tor2zyjdctd.onion
And the last free service making our top 5 dark web email providers is Mail2Tor, another Tor-exclusive email.
Mail2Tor is only accessible via the Tor network but can both receive dark web and clearweb emails, making this another dual compatible setup. The site is quite minimalist and doesn’t provide a whole lot of information outside of it being a Tor-only email provider. The service has been around for quite awhile and has served the Tor community well during its time.
5. Cock.li – cockmailwwfvrtqj.onion (NSFW)
While the name might sound like the most serious email provider, it’s not, but one thing they do care about is privacy. Cock.li is run by an individual who owns a number of NSFW domains and decided to make it an email provider. Be warned, the domain may not be safe for work if others are around.
While it’s a silly name, it is a very real email provider and about as transparent as the come. Cock.li advertises itself as an email ran by “some dude”, not a business, and that does come with its own set of perks. One of those being complete transparency, or about as clear as they come. For starters, the owner of Cock.li, who we’ll refer to as Vincent Canfield from now on, has the total monthly costs listed on the homepage. Right under that, Canfield has a transparency report, publishing all the legal documents he receives and information he is ever forced to disclose.
Alongside transparency, he also provides a darknet portal, cockmailwwfvrtqj.onion, and clearly outlines how his webmail runs. Letting everyone know that email is inherently insecure and how he technically does have the ability to read emails, just like nearly any other provider. While all of this may sound a little scary, Cock.li is a very well respected email provider among regular dark web visitors.
When dealing with email on the dark web you need to be extremely cautious as email is a serious service that needs to be properly handled. If your communications fall into the wrong hands it can be critical and can even cost some people their life in other countries.
Email privacy is a serious concern and should not be taken lightly. Your inbox holds not only your common interests but extremely private information, and if you’re working on the dark web, it’s presumably even more sensitive. And finding a provider that can offer secure communications is something hard to trust, especially when working on the dark web as many government agencies want to de-anonymize Tor users.
While the Tor Project continues to battle the waves of government these are some emails that can combat mass surveillance as well. Ensure that you keep up your operational security (#OpSec) on high defense at all times when using any dark web email provider.