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. / CC BY 3.0 us / Wikimedia Commons


Your IP address, your browser's cookies, your service provider's connections, your DNS server, and other technical pieces of information give you away on the web. ProtonMail offers free and secure email from Switzerland with end-to-end encryption that happens in a browser or phone. You can also sign up for the service anonymously. To take advantage of this security, access the ProtonMail website from your location using the Tor network and Tor Browser.

Download the Tor Browser from the Tor Project. The site has 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 the 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% 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. These organizations don't 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 a .onion site from outside Tor using a regular browser, you get 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. Install a Tor browser on your computer or device.

  2. Open Tor Browser.

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

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

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

    NoScript button in Tor
  5. Select Options to open the NoScript Settings window in a new tab.

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

    Screenshot of Per-site Permissions tab
  7. In either the Search or add a web-site or Address of web site text box, type https://protonirockerxow.onion/, then select the plus sign (+) to safelist 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, learn how to send anonymous email messages.