Hushmail in U.S. v. Tyler Stumbo

Jon Callas jon at
Thu Nov 1 16:52:28 EDT 2007

On Nov 1, 2007, at 10:49 AM, John Levine wrote:

>> Since email between hushmail accounts is generally PGPed.  (That is
>> the point, right?)
> Hushmail is actually kind of a scam.  In its normal configuration,
> it's in effect just webmail with an HTTPS connection and a long
> password.  It will generate and verify PGP signatures and encryption
> for mail it sends and receives, but they generate and maintain their
> users' PGP keys.
> There's a Java applet that's supposed to do end to end encryption, but
> since it's with the same key that Hushmail knows, what's the point?

I'm sorry, but that's a slur. Hushmail is not a scam. They do a very  
good job of explaining what they do, what they cannot do, and against  
which threats they protect. You may quibble all you want with its  
*effectiveness* but they are not a scam. A scam is being dishonest.

You also mischaracterize the Hushmail system. The "classic" Hushmail  
does not generate the keys, and while it holds them, they're  
encrypted. The secrets Hushmail holds are as secure as the end user's  
operational security.

I know what you're going to say next. People pick bad passphrases,  
etc. Yes, you're right. That is not being a scam.

They have another system that is more web-service oriented, and they  
explain it on their web site far better than I could. It has further  
limitations in security but with increased usability. It is also not  
a scam.


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