ProtonMail adds support for elliptic curve cryptography boosting speed and security

The secure email service, ProtonMail, now supports elliptic curve cryptography for enhanced security and speed, the team behind the product has announced. The company has been working for several months to implement support for new cryptographic methods which provide a faster experience with equal or greater security.

The firm has taken the decision include elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) alongside RSA encryption. It said ECC will become the default for all new addresses on ProtonMail but gives existing users the ability to upgrade their RSA addresses right now. In order to upgrade follow these instructions carefully:

  1. Head to your ProtonMail inbox on desktop.
  2. Go to SETTINGS.
  3. Head to the Keys menu.
  4. Press ADD NEW KEY, select the address you want to upgrade from the dropdown and press NEXT.
  5. Select State-of-the-art and then GENERATE KEYS.
  6. Under ADD NEW KEY you should see your email address, press the expand arrow.
  7. On the ECC row, press the arrow next to EXPORT in the ACTIONS column and select MAKE PRIMARY. That’s it, do NOT delete the RSA key as it’s needed for reading old emails.

For those who are using an RSA key, you can continue doing so without following the instructions above and your emails will stay safe. The team does warn, however, that your inbox will be slower than if you upgrade to ECC and this slower speed will be more noticeable on mobile devices than on desktops.

One concern people have regarding encryption is it ability to stand up against quantum computers. The team addressed this concern in relation to ECC, saying:

“Some users may also be curious about quantum computers, which will be insanely fast and promise to upend existing encryption systems. Elliptic curve cryptography in its current form would not stand a chance against a quantum computer. But such technology is still at least several years away, and just as ProtonMail has adapted to the new ECC standard, we will continue to evolve alongside new challenges. There is active research today into quantum-resistant encryption algorithms which we are following closely.”

Be sure to check out the full blog post for more details about ProtonMail’s ECC implementation and to find contact details if you need help or want to ask any questions.

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