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Decentralized E-mails

The first email between different computers was sent in 1971 through ARPANET, a network established by the US Department of Defense. Here, we should mention the first name in our historical journey: Ray Tomlinson. He is known as the inventor of email, and it was he who created the first email client. He is also a father of the integral email attribute — the “@” sign used to signify message users on specific machines (user@computer).

The ARPANET-based email system was a forerunner of the modern internet and SMTP protocol, in particular.

With the development of the internet and digital business in the early 1990s, SMTP usage became more widespread and commercial. Sales and advertising also went online, and spam thereby became a problem.

SMTP is the main protocol used for sending emails. Actually, it is the only dedicated method of email sending. Regardless of the way of sending emails, SMTP at some point will be involved.

Thanks to the blockchain, in particular to Ethereum, new tools have been developed in different areas, such as decentralized email addresses.

Blockchain is a decentralized ledger, storing information about each transaction that has taken place in the network. Each piece of data is authenticated by multiple computers present in the network, making it virtually impossible to impersonate any party involved.

Decentralized emails have recently been implemented so that they do not rely on centralized companies or servers.

Modern email providers, including Gmail or Hotmail, incorporate encryption techniques such as TLS or SSL by default. Most often, they’re only applied when an email is dispatched and later retrieved on the recipient’s end. As a message wanders between email servers, it’s not encrypted, and as such, susceptible to interception.

Large corporations such as Google scan through the content of our emails, gauging our interests. Then, they monetize the data obtained this way with targeted advertising, or by feeding other functionalities. Some could go as far as selling this data to third parties, with or without users’ consent.

With Blockchain, emails probably wouldn’t move between email servers. They probably wouldn’t even be sent in a typical understanding of it. Instead, they would be fetched from someplace in the blockchain and rendered to the recipient upon request.

Emails on a blockchain, the contents of each message would be stored on a decentralized ledger, far from the inquisitive eyes of email providers. No one but the sender and recipient could access it, leaving no space for data breaches and not-so-innocuous advertisers.

Here are 2 of the existing options I use:

ProtonMail is a Swiss-based project that provides end-to-end encryption for all emails. It’s open-sourced, allowing you to access the entire source code, including the encryption libraries used in the product.

Each email can be set to auto-destruct at a specified time. You can email both ProtonMail users as well as any other email address. For internal conversions, emails will be automatically encrypted and decrypted upon arrival.

When sending emails outside of Proton, the recipient will only be able to decrypt them after typing in a password. By default, they’ll also self-destruct after 28 days.

Tutanota is a similar service to ProtonMail, though not as popular. It’s also open-source and provides end-to-end encryption. It allows messaging both internal and external recipients and provides a number of handy features, such as 2FA, white labels, encrypted calendars, and others.

The service is free with up to 1GB of storage. If you require more, premium plans are also available with additional features.

You can also check out:

LedgerMail provides end-to-end encryption for all emails. It replaces the typical SMTP connection that empowers traditional email and adds a solid security layer. It can also be integrated with existing Outlook/Gmail accounts.

All messages are stored in a decentralized blockchain, and the LedgerMail team claims to do its part to limit energy consumption and boost the pace of transmission.


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