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HushMail is Looking a lot like Hotmail These Days – Crappy

Jan 24, 2002 (Updated Jan 25, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Digital signatures integrated with web email service

Cons:2mb email box, lots of ads, is this Hotmail?

The Bottom Line: HushMail is a PGP integrated web email service. Includes mini-review of LokMail v.2.0.

Hushmail is a free PGP integrated web email service. Why is encryption important? You donít want people to intercept, read, and modify your email before it gets to you, and you want to make sure people are really who they say they are. Today, nearly all email sent by people is in the form of plain text messages. No encryption involved, and no digital signatures anywhere. Who do you trust?

Without getting much into PGP, [Footnote 1] this is the signup process at HushMail... Choose a username, and click to continue. The next page asks if you want to download a java applet. You have to accept yes to continue. The java applet creates a secure interface to HushMail servers that allows you to complete your signup. You choose your passphrase (like a password, but longer). Then comes this part that seems silly, a box pops up and you are asked to randomly move your mouse around until HushMail tells you to stop. This is required because HushMail needs to create a random number for the PGP keys it is making for you. Of course, everyone knows that software generated random numbers are not truly random. Only by sampling nature can one generate a true random number. That is how the NSA does it. They use a Geiger counter to measure background radiation, and based on the number generated at any given moment, create a one-time key code that is sealed in foil and glass to be used by NORAD and the President to launch nuclear missiles. The NSAís system is nearly foolproof. Software generated numbers, however, are not, and only time will tell how well HushMailís PGP keys stand up to cracking, but suffice it to say, you donít have to worry about it, because probability is more or less on your side that you will not be hacked.

Hushmail features a miniscule 2Mb storage space, and puts ads on your emails; there are ads everywhere. This is basically a Hotmail account with a PGP option. I tried this service, and Iíve got to say it not that great. Today, I tried to compose a message, but I get a bunch of HushMail server errors. Also, 2Mb doesnít seem like a lot of space, and everywhere you turn, (like the big-ass ad on its homepage) HushMail is hustling me to signup to their ($29.99/year + $19.99 one-time signup) premium 32Mb email services that comes with no ads. NO THANKS.

I should say that there is another free PGP web email service that is on the web, LokMail v.2.0. LokMail has been around since 1999, but last year was upgraded to version 2.0 with improved features like ability to use special characters upon signup. When you signup to LokMail free email, you get a 25Mb box, and a secure storage area. You do not need to download java applets to signup or login, and there are no ads. You can be notified of email messages on your pager, or another email address. For the security conscious, the random number generator that creates your LokMail PGP keys are truly random -- the LokMail servers use Intel RNG motherboards, and the operating system operates on OpenBSD -- so you do not have to move your mouse around, or randomly tap on your keyboard -- but you do have to wait up to 5 minutes before you can finally log in. LokMail also allows you to upload your own PGP keys. Premium services like 1Gb storage are also available (soon), but they do not push them. LokMail is located at Do not use because this site contains the old version; that is what their COO, John Miller, says, they hope to upgrade the old servers soon. The only problems I have when I use LokMail are sometimes you get missing pages, and you have to click back to retry.

[FN 1] check out my PGP software review at

Recommend this product? Yes

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