How ProtonMail Tor Access Makes Free Email Secure and Anonymous

ProtonMail + Tor makes for a great balance of privacy vs. effort

Tor logo with onion

The Tor Project, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0 us


ProtonMail accessed through Tor provides secure and anonymous email with three levels of encryption, even where ProtonMail is blocked as a regular website.

Your IP address, your browser's cookies, your service provider's connections, your DNS server and other technical pieces of information give you away. ProtonMail offers free, secure email from Switzerland with end-to-end encryption that happens in your browser or phone; you're even free to sign up for the service anonymously. All this security is no good, however, if you cannot access the ProtonMail website from your location. This is where the Tor network and Tor Browser come in.

Download the Tor Browser directly from the Tor Project. Run installers for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.

How the Tor Network Lets You Send Anonymous Email

The Tor network anonymizes traffic on the internet. Instead of your computer or browser establishing a direct connection to the server, Tor sends that traffic through a number of relays. Each relay only knows who connected to it directly, and to where.

No party knows all the points in the connection chain. Most importantly, the final server (which serves the website or emails) does not know you, your location, your IP address, or anything else about you. Consequently, you cannot be easily blocked or tracked by IP address, country, or browser.

Tor is great for ordinary, private communication, but your entrance and exit nodes to the network can be logged even if the traffic within the network isn't. Never assume that you're 100 percent anonymous or untraceable on the internet.

An HTTPS Onion Site Makes ProtonMail Tor Access Even Safer

In addition, Tor includes a system that hides not only the user but also the server. These hidden services are accessible only through Tor. That means a government or other organization cannot easily prevent access to these services; they do not know you are accessing them in the first place.

Instead of a "normal" web address (ending in .com, for example), use what is called an onion address for the hidden web services in the Tor browser. Onion addresses end in .onion. If you try to access an .onion site from outside Tor using a regular browser, all you get is an error.

Because ProtonMail can be accessed as an onion site, its services become all the more difficult to block. It's at https://protonirockerxow.onion/.

Both email in the ProtonMail system and the Tor network provide end-to-end encryption of traffic. In addition, the ProtonMail onion site uses Secure Sockets Layer for another, third, layer of encryption.

Get Secure, Anonymous Email with ProtonMail Tor Access

To access ProtonMail with a maximum of security and anonymity by leveraging multiple layers of end-to-end encryption and internet traffic obfuscation using Tor with Tor Browser:

  1. Make sure a Tor browser is installed on your computer or device.

  2. Open Tor Browser.

    Tor Browser
  3. Type https://protonirockerxow.onion/ into the address bar, and press Enter.

    Protonirockerxow.onion/login in Tor browser
  4. Select the NoScript add-on icon in the Tor Browser address bar.

    This only applies to older versions of Tor Browser. A fresh install won't show NoScript, and there's no need to whitelist ProtonMail

    NoScript button in Tor
  5. Select Options from the menu that appears. The NoScript Settings window will open in a new tab.

    NoScript Options
  6. Go to Whitelist or the Per-site Permissions tab.

    Screenshot of Per-site Permissions tab
  7. Type https://protonirockerxow.onion/ under Search or add a web-site or Address of web site. Click the plus sign (+) to whitelist the address.

    Plus button to whitelist ProtonMail
  8. Log in with your ProtonMail username and password. If you do not have a ProtonMail account, select the Create Account button and follow the steps to make a free ProtonMail account.

    Login and Sign Up buttons on ProtonMail via Tor browser
  9. Your ProtonMail inbox will open in the Tor Browser. You'll have full access to your account securely over Tor.

    ProtonMail inbox over Tor

For a more in-depth treatment of anonymous emailing, check out Sending Anonymous Email Messages.