IIT Guwahati researcher launches ‘privacy-first’ email provider startup


Email communication in today’s world is often treated like an afterthought even though online businesses completely depend on it. Major email providers not only mine user data but also use this data to display ads or sell to third parties.

Sunit Kumar Nandi (26), who is pursuing PhD in Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Guwahati, has launched an email provider startup named Letter. The platform offers email hosting which is encrypted per mailbox and organisation with ChaCha20-Poly1305 encryption using the user’s password as the passphrase for the encryption keys making it impossible to read conversations as an email services operator.

“Email needs to be treated on a priority since it is the backbone of all human communication on the internet. The startup was created while keeping ease of usage, email deliverability, data ownership and privacy protection as the prime focus, which most other operators often take for granted,” says Nandi, who is also a trainee teacher at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, National Institute of Technology (NIT), Arunachal Pradesh.

The idea was first conceived when Nandi operated Techno FAQ Digital Media since its inception in 2012 and wanted business email solutions for his startup.

“While self-hosting Techno FAQ’s business email, I learnt how to efficiently offer email services, ensure state-of-the-art security while not compromising on features, provide great performance and stellar deliverability of emails to the recipient’s inbox. Soon we were hosting more than 10,000 emails per day. Our team realised that privacy is becoming increasingly important for people and hence, we decided to explore the untapped market,” Nandi told
Education Times.

Nandi says that most email providers often source email data of their customers, whether they are paying or not, and the less popular ones are poorly maintained to the point that e-mail deliverability and spam is a major issue. Many providers do not offer standard ways to access mailboxes and force you to use their apps.

To overcome these persistent issues, Letter offers the option to import and export of your email data, so the user is truly in control of their data. Besides, it ensures connection encryption for mail sending and receiving with TLS 1.3 with 256-bit key strength with either AES-256-GCM or ChaCha20-Poly1305. It adds an encryption layer over and above email encryption that not only secures emails but also the infrastructure from cyberattacks.





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