CERN Developers Team Launched Highly Protected Email Service Through Bitcoin Network

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by Polina Chernykh · 3 min read
CERN Developers Team Launched Highly Protected Email Service Through Bitcoin Network
Photo: davidpc_/Flickr

CERN scientists launched its new encrypted email service called ProtonMail.

Switzerland-based European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) launched its new fully secured and encrypted email service in beta on May 16.

Called ProtonMail, the service has end-to-end encrypted email capability without requiring any software installment. Moreover, it is likely to be NSA-proof correspondent.

“When we launched ProtonMail, we did not anticipate that there would be so much interest in our service,” ProtonMail wrote on its website. “We thought we had enough resources in place to support over 1 month of user signups. Never could we have imagined that we would hit that limit in around 60 hours.”

The platform for ProtonMail was founded by PhD student and CERN scientist Andy Yen, who examined the problem of lack of the online privacy. Yen decided to ask his fellow CERN scientists to assist him in finding a possible solution to the problem. The final team, which involved CERN and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) scientists, started meeting at the famous CERN Restaurant One where they came up with the new project.

“We’ve basically separated the message that’s encrypted apart from the key – all the encryption takes place on your computer instead of our servers, so there’s no way for us to see the original message,” Yen said.

According to Yen, the service is different from other email systems that store the encryption key. ProtonMail encryption and decryption are invisible for its users. Unlike other encryption tools, the system is designed to be simple for its users.

The team began ProtonMail development after the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden affair. The leak showed that NSA has an access to the widely used technology to snoop on people.

However, CERN scientists believe that everyone has the right to privacy. Today a large number of Internet users started using encrypted communications after the Snowden leak. The volume of encrypted internet traffic has increased significantly over the last months.

The service is available in beta only. The team is now developing iOS and Android apps, which are expected to be launched in late summer. As predicted, ProtonMail will be out of beta at the same time. Yen said beta testing is available to users, but the capacity of the server is limited.

While ProtonMail is free, additional features will be offered. The full pricing is unknown, but the paid account will provide 1GB of storage worth $5.

ProtonMail, which guarantees privacy and security, does not track any personal information of its users.

Bitcoin will be included into the system as one of its payment methods.

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Polina Chernykh

Polina is an undergraduate student at Belarusian State Economic University (BSEU) where she is studying at the faculty of International Business Communication for a degree specializing in Intercultural Communication. In her spare time she enjoys drawing, music and travelling.

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