Unseen – A 4096-Bits Encryption Communication Service from Iceland

Growing levels concern regarding communication privacy issues has given rise to scads of new encrypted email services … Like this one for example:

Quite a few companies and individuals aim to improve communication security. Unseen.is is third service that I have reviewed in the past 24 hour period that promises to improve user communication security and privacy (the other two are ShazzleMail and Telegram). Unlike the two services, Unseen is a complete communication product that combines email, audio and video calling, and chat in a single service.

It needs to be noted — again — that Unseen has not been audited by third-parties, and that you should keep that in mind while reading the review.

So what is Unseen? Unseen is a communication service that is available as a free and pro version. The free version supports the majority of features that the service has to offer with two notable exceptions.

Both versions of the service share the same strong 4096 bit encryption that it uses to protect communication. One difference though is that premium users can generate and store their own private keys, while free users cannot.

The second difference is that only premium users can make use of secure and encrypted email, while free users can only use email regularly.

unseen

Premium users on top of that gain group calling options and 2 Gigabytes of storage instead of the 25 Megabytes that free users get. 25 Megabytes is not much, and it is not clear if that is all the storage that users get to store emails on the servers.

File transfers, the service supports those, can be larger than those though. According to the company website, premium users can transfer files up to 40 Gigabytes in size.

Unseen is currently only available as a web-based version, but versions for Windows, Mac and Linux systems as well as Android and iPhone are in development. All of the applications and programs will be free of charge.

Encryption details

All messages that are transferred using Unseen are encrypted and decrypted by users of the service, not by Unseen. According to the FAQ page of the service, it does not have access to the key.

Messages are encrypted using 4096-bit encryption and “advanced symmetrical encryption”.

Little is know about the type of encryption that Unseen uses, other than that it “proprietary encryption based on open source standards” such as xAES and NTRU.

Issues

Unseen does not reveal much about the technology that it is using to protect and secure the system. While that does not necessarily have to be a bad thing, at least some users may prefer if developers are open about what is being used so that they can audit the service or at least evaluate the claims that are being made.

The major challenge for Unseen is that it only works properly if both sender and recipient are using it. While you can use services such as chat or video calls only if both users have an Unseen account, the same cannot be said for email.

If you want secure email and sign up for a premium account, you need to convince your contacts to sign up and do the same.

You can still send emails to unprotected email addresses, but that means that the information are not fully secure.

One thing that I could not figure out how to do was how the “control your private key” feature worked for free users. I could not find any information about the private key after logging in to the service.

Closing Words

Unseen offers more communication forms than popular solutions such as Skype. While some are missing, such as SMS, it is not really necessary as soon as the mobile and desktop clients get released by the service’s parent company.

If you can convince your contacts to make the switch — the free account is sufficient if you only want to chat — then this may be worth taking a look at.

The premium service for now is offered for $49 for a lifetime license,  a fair price.

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