From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Web address
Type of site
Web-based email
Registration Yes
Owner Hush Communications Corp.
Created by Cliff Baltzley
Launched 1999
Alexa rank
Decrease 13,799 (February 2016)[1]
Current status Active

Hushmail is a web-based email service offering PGP-encrypted e-mail, file storage and vanity domain service. Hushmail offers "free" and "paid" versions of service. Hushmail uses OpenPGP standards and the source is available for download. If public encryption keys are available to both recipient and sender (either both are Hushmail users or have uploaded PGP keys to the Hush keyserver), Hushmail can convey authenticated, encrypted messages in both directions. For recipients for whom no public key is available, Hushmail will allow a message to be encrypted by a password (with a password hint) and stored for pickup by the recipient, or the message can be sent in cleartext.


Hushmail was founded by Cliff Baltzley in 1999 after he left Ultimate Privacy.


As of December 22, 2015, Hushmail has a score of 1 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's secure messaging scorecard. Hushmail has received a point for encryption during transit. It is missing points because communications are not encrypted with keys the provider doesn't have access to (i.e. the communications are not end-to-end encrypted), users can't verify contacts' identities, past messages are not secure if the encryption keys are stolen (i.e. the service does not provide forward secrecy), the code is not open to independent review (i.e. the code is not open-source), the security design is not properly documented, and there has not been a recent independent security audit.[2][3] AIM, BlackBerry Messenger, Ebuddy XMS, Kik Messenger, Skype, Viber, and Yahoo Messenger also have a score of 1 out of 7 points.[2]



A free e-mail account has a storage limit of 25MB, but does not include IMAP or Post Office Protocol (POP3) desktop service. If a user does not use a free account for three consecutive weeks, Hushmail deactivates the account. Customers attempting to reactivate a disabled account are required to pay for a Hushmail premium account. There are two types of paid accounts. The basic Premium paid account provides 1 GB of storage, without desktop service. The Premium+Desktop paid account provides 10GB of storage, as well as IMAP and POP3 service.[4] Free account registration is no longer available.


The standard business account provides the same features as Premium+Desktop, plus other features like email forwarding, catch-all email and vanity domain. Optional features that can be added for an extra fee include: secure web forms, user admin, reset passphrase and email archiving.[5]

Additional security features include hidden IP addresses in e-mail headers, two-step verification[6] and HIPAA compliant encryption.

Instant messaging[edit]

An instant messaging service, Hush Messenger, was offered until July 1, 2011.[7]

Compromises to email privacy[edit]

Further information: E-mail privacy

Hushmail received favorable reviews in the press.[8][9] It was believed that possible threats, such as demands from the legal system to reveal the content of traffic through the system, were not imminent in Canada, unlike the United States, and that if data were to be handed over, encrypted messages would be available only in encrypted form.

Developments in November 2007 led to doubts among security-conscious users about Hushmail's security and concern over a backdoor. The issue originated with the non-Java version of the Hush system. It performed the encrypt and decrypt steps on Hush's servers and then used SSL to transmit the data to the user. The data is available as cleartext during this small window; the passphrase can be captured at this point, facilitating the decryption of all stored messages and future messages using this passphrase. Hushmail stated that the Java version is also vulnerable, in that they may be compelled to deliver a compromised java applet to a user.[10][11]

Hushmail turned over cleartext copies of private email messages associated with several addresses at the request of law enforcement agencies under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States.;[10] e.g. in the case of U.S. v. Tyler Stumbo.[10][11][12] In addition, the contents of emails between Hushmail addresses were analyzed, and 12 CDs were turned over to U.S. authorities. Hushmail privacy policy states that it logs IP addresses in order "to analyze market trends, gather broad demographic information, and prevent abuse of our services."[13]

Hush Communications, the company that provides Hushmail, states that it will not release any user data without a court order from the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, and that other countries seeking access to user data must apply to the government of Canada via an applicable Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.[11] Hushmail states that "...that means that there is no guarantee that we will not be compelled, under a court order issued by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, to treat a user named in a court order differently, and compromise that user's privacy" and "...if a court order has been issued by the Supreme Court of British Columbia compelling us to reveal the content of your encrypted email, the "attacker" could be Hush Communications, the actual service provider."[14]

2015 DDoS Attacks[edit]

In late 2015, the Hushmail came under DDoS attack. In response, Hushmail deployed CloudFlare's web traffic filtering technology. CloudFlare now negotiates TLS connections with customers of Hushmail before passing validated traffic on to Hushmail servers. CloudFlare is an American company located in San Francisco, California.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]