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As revelations about NSA spying and an exponential increase in malicious hacking continue to come out, more and more people are concerned with the security of their online communications, especially e-mail.  One startup taking advantage of the general trend towards people and companies wanting increased privacy is secure e-mail app provider.

Formed by two brothers John and Will Ackerly, Virtru has a particularly intriguing background. Both Ackerly brothers are former NSA cryptographers, and having seen the power of the NSA from the inside, they decided to build an app that could help protect people from snooping. The interest in this sort of protection was just demonstrated, as the Ackerly brothers’ startup, Washington, DC based Virtru raised Virtru just raised a cool $6 million from leading VC Bessemer Partners. In an additional validation of Virtru’s potential, current Bessemer Partner Verisign Founder David Cowan also joined Virtru’s board.

“Because it’s so complex to securely manage encryption keys, nearly all of the world’s 180 billion daily emails are sent completely unprotected, despite the relentless loss of private messages and files that haunts us all,” stated Cowan. “Bessemer set out to find a simple, user-friendly solution, and so I was delighted to discover a brilliant team with the right vision, crypto skills, and unwavering commitment to privacy.

Virtru offers an extension which integrates with your e-mail and provides end-to-end encryption for the most widely used cloud-based email services. Users of Virtru are given two important options for controlling their e-mails:

  1. First, how long the message will stay before being automatically erased. For a broad analogy, think of the consumer app Snapchat which automatically allows messages and photos to self-destruct.
  2. Second, Virtru also allows users to specifically specify whether a user can forward your e-mail.

Most everyone has had the experience of sending an e-mail they wish they hadn’t. And then when that e-mail gets forwarded on disaster can strike. Plenty of people have lost jobs or even spouses in this exact scenario. For those wanting to avoid this scenario, Virtru now offers them a solution.

Virtru’s browser plug-ins and mobile apps are currently free to consumers, with the introduction of commercial features for business users coming soon. The team also has plans to expand beyond email security to secure texts, posts, tweets, and other digital platforms.

Virtru’s technology looks fascinating and their timing certainly fits the current cybersecurity climate – this is most definitely one startup to keep an eye.

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