Lavabit is an encrypted email provider that was preferred by Edward Snowden, the man who blew the whistle on the USA’s electronic spying programs. The service was shut down back in 2013 when company chief Ladar Levison decided not to accept the government demand for handing over the SSL encryption key. Lavabit is now back from the dead to provide secure email service once again.
To ensure that it doesn’t have to go through something like that again, Lavabit has created a new architecture that physically prevents it from handing over the SSL key. The key is now stored in a tamper-resistant device.
It generates a long passphrase that even Lavabit can’t see and then inserts the key into the tamper-resistant device before destroying the passphrase. “Once it’s in there, we cannot pull that SSL key back out,” a developer for Lavabit told The Intercept.
The resurrected Lavabit is currently only open to previous users who were locked out of their accounts unexpectedly following the sudden demise of this service back in 2013. Lavabit will eventually open up the new service to more users in the coming months who will have the option to decide between Trustful, Cautious, and Paranoid modes.
The Trustful option only encrypts emails on Lavabit’s server while Cautious is going to provide end-to-end encryption. Those who go with the Paranoid option will have to install a client software on their machines to generate an encryption key. Users will have to manually transfer the key if they want to use another device and if a key is lost then it’s not recoverable.
Lavabit hasn’t said when it’s going to open up the service to new users but it’s accepting pre-registrations for new accounts on its website.
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