ProtonMail, an encrypted email service developed by CERN scientists in Geneva and researchers at MIT, has released its iOS and Android mobile apps to the public following a beta test period. Users can sign up for apps on the ProtonMail website.
Scientists who met while working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland developed ProtonMail. The goal was to protect people from the mass surveillance by governments and corporations around the world.
Crowdfunding Proves Helpful
Thanks to the support from its crowdfunding campaigns, the company has been able to overcome its challenges and expects to expand significantly. In 2014, ProtonMail raised $550,377 USD from 10,576 backers in one month on Indiegogo, marking a 550% response to its $100,000 campaign goal.
The email provider also raised $64,286 on gofundme.com in November of 2015 in response to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that CCN reported. The gofundme campaign raised $64,286 from 1,808 people in four months, exceeding the campaign’s $50,000 goal. The campaign allowed ProtonMail to implement a state-of-the-art solution to prevent such attacks in the future.
Privacy Under Siege
The decision to make the service public was based on the observation that in the past couple of years, surveillance has expanded globally. ProtonMail cited the Investigatory Powers Bill in the U.K., the CISA in the U.S. and the recent FBI case against Apple.
“We understand that governments have concerns when it comes to terrorism and encryption, but undermining our collective security by weakening cryptography is the wrong approach. Whether we admit it or not, we are now in the middle of a second crypto war,” ProtonMail said on its website.
Even Apple, the world’s largest tech company, has moved towards the side of greater privacy protections, ProtonMail noted.
The best way to defend the right to privacy is to provide the necessary tools to the general public as fast as possible and put the decision into the hands of the people and not the governments.
Public Support Needed
To keep ProtonMail free, public support is essential; the company noted its operational expenses will increase significantly. ProtonMail will need more users to upgrade to paid or donating accounts to have the financial resources to support its growing community.
ProtonMail, unlike Facebook and Google that abuse user privacy to sell advertising, entirely depends on users upgrading to paid accounts to cover expenses. Minus this support, the project will not be able to operate.
“We hope enough of you will support us in this mission so we can continue to protect online privacy,” the company stated on its website.
ProtonMail Paid A Ransom
ProtonMail paid a ransom demand of 15 bitcoin (approximately $6000) to attackers who targeted the service with destructive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks back in June, CCN reported. Two groups were believed to be behind the attacks, one of which began the cyber-strikes and put forth the ransom demand.
The attacks spread to company’s data center in Switzerland while assuring users that the company’s core technology of end-to-end encryption remained untouched.
Featured image from Shutterstock.