Riseup - secure email service

Updated 11 August 2014

This guide is out-of-date

Riseup is a collective organization dedicated to providing private and secure email and hosting services for individuals and organisations committed to political and social justice.

Required reading

What you will get from this guide

  • A community-driven and an advertisement-free email account.
  • The ability to access your email over the Internet or with an email program, and conduct private email communications over an encrypted connection.
  • The ability to change your email address, set your email box size, and invite others to join RiseUp.

1. Introduction to RiseUp

1.0 Other tools like RiseUp

Although RiseUp is a secure email service managed by trustworthy advocates of Internet privacy and security, an unusual email service may attract unwarranted attention. It might make more sense in some situations, to blend in by using a popular email service in your country. The goal is to make this decision without compromising your minimum security requirements. We offer the following points for consideration when choosing an email service:

  1. Does it permit the use of encrypted channels (like https, and other SSL encrypted versions of protocols like IMAPs, POP3s, SMTPs) for transferring all information (including login-in information, and your emails), and are there any encryption-related problems (for example, problems related to encryption certificates)?

  2. Are the email servers managed in secure way? Are they run by professionals who are committed to using the best practices for protecting your information? Do you trust they will not provide access to your information, for any reason (commercial, political, religious, etc.), to third parties?

  3. Do you know the geographical location of the servers, under which territorial jurisdiction they fall or where the company is registered? Are you aware of how this information relates to the privacy and security of your email activity and information?

In some parts of the world, Google Mail would prove a good alternative to RiseUp, offering a better "blending in" effect, without compromising much of the security (given its commercial nature).

1.1 Things you should know about RiseUp before you start

RiseUp is a collective dedicated to providing private and secure hosting, listing and mail services for individuals and organisations who are committed to political and social justice. As their services are free and Riseup is not monitoring your activity, your email account is much smaller than other advertisement-driven and non-secure providers. A new account can only be registered by those who have received an invite code from two existing members. Read more about Riseup on their website.

RiseUp operates exclusively over the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), providing a secure connection between your computer and their server. This security is maintained when reading your email in a client program, over secure POP, IMAP and SMTP connections (these refer to protocols used by a email client program to download or send your emails). RiseUp is compatible with Mozilla Thunderbird. To learn how to set up Mozilla Thunderbird to access your RiseUp email account, please refer to the chapter on Thunderbird.

In addition to email accounts RiseUp also provides:

2. Create a RiseUp Account

RiseUp offers you two different methods for registering an email account. Each method requires a differentall investment of effort and time.

1). Directly request an account from the RiseUp team themselves. Bear in mind that RiseUp generally runs on donations and the enthusiasm and goodwill of its volunteers - this method can take longer to be approved for an account.

2). The recommended method is for individuals and/or organisations to be invited to join by two existing RiseUp account members. This method requires that each existing RiseUp member sends you an invite code. To see how such codes are generated, please refer to Section 4.3 The Invites Page

After you have received your invite codes, perform the following steps to register your free RiseUp account as follows:

Step 1. Type https://mail.riseup.net into your web browser, to activate the RiseUp site as follows:

Figure 1: The https://mail.riseup.net/ page

Note: The s in the https:// address indicates that you are now communicating through a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection.

For more information about this, please refer to the How-to Booklet chapter on Keeping your Internet Communication Private or to https://help.riseup.net/security.

Step 2. Click to activate the Request account page as follows:

Figure 2: The RiseUp Request an email account page

Step 3. Click to display the RiseUp Request an email account - About our email service page.

Important: You must agree to all terms and conditions stated on the About our email service page to proceed with the RiseUp account setup.

Step 4. Read the RiseUp Social Contract, Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Click all the I accept riseup.net's check boxes to confirm that you agree to the terms and conditions.

Step 5. Click to begin creating your RiseUp account by filling out the following on-line forms: Account information, Password and Activation.

Step 6. Enter a desired username for your account. This will become your login and your email address. (In this tutorial, we based our example on 'ssayyed' to generate an email account known as ssayyed@riseup.net.

Important: Do not use commas, full stops or spaces in the username.

Figure 3: An example of a completed Account information form

Note that the fields Alternate email, Language, Country and Time Zone are not changed or they are left empty, to minimise the amount of personal information that you store on the server. Leaving Alternate email field empty will provide better privacy, but will not let you reset your password for this account in case you forget it.

Step 7. Click to proceed to the Password form.

Note: If you chosen username is already taken, you will be prompted to create a different one.

Step 8. Fill-in the Password and Retype password fields and click to proceed.

Figure 4: The completed Password form

Important: The password for your RiseUp account is the most important factor in the security of your account. To learn how to create a strong password, please refer to the How-to Booklet chapter How to Create and Maintain Good Passwords and to the manual on KeePass.

Step 9. Complete the Activation form.

If you have received Invite codes from RiseUp account users that you know personally, type the Invite codes into their respective fields. Each Invite code much come from a different user. Alternatively you can request an account by RiseUp.net by completing the Tell us about yourself field. If you provide Invite codes, do not fill in the Tell us about yourself field.

Type the Invite codes into their respective text fields.

Figure 5: An example of a completed Activation form

Step 10. Click to request your RiseUp account or to finish creating your RiseUp account as follows:

Figure 6: An example of an account successfully created confirmation

Step 11. Click to return to the RiseUp Mail Home Page (see figure 1).

Congratulations! You have successfully created or requested your RiseUp email account.

3. Login to Your RiseUp Account

3.0 Login to RiseUp

To log into your account, perform the following steps:

Step 1. Open the RiseUp home page in SSL mode as follows: https://mail.riseup.net/

Figure 1: The RiseUp mail login page

Riseup is currently using Roundcube, a free and open source web mail interface. Roundcube require JavaScript. If you prefer not to use it, Riseup also lets you access your email with SquirrelMail (see below). Riseup web mail also need your browser to accept cookies (see Firefox chapter for more information about cookies).

The RiseUp web mail login page is divided into the login section in the centre, and a group of links below it:

Step 2. Type your information into the Username: and Password: text fields. Do not include the @riseup.net part of the address in the Username: field.

Step 3. Click to display your account as follows:

Figure 2: An example of RiseUp SquirrelMail Account

Optional steps: If you would like to change your web mail interface to another language follow those optional steps:

Step 3. Select from the top menu. The settings window appears as follows:

Figure 3: The Settings pane

Step 5. Select to activate the User Interface settings pane as follows:

Figure 4: The Settings - User Interface Preferences pane

Step 5. Locate the Language drop-down menu, as displayed in figure 4 above, and then select the appropriate language.

3.1 Login With the Virtual Keyboard

If you are using a public or shared computer (for example in an Internet café, community centre or library), you can enter your password by using the virtual keyboard. It offers your email account another layer of protection from key-logger programs. Key-logger programs are designed to monitor user's physical key strokes to record passwords, usernames and other vital information. Virtual keyboard allow users to circumvent this security vulnerability, by letting the user enter their password using the mouse.

To use the RiseUp virtual keyboard, perform the following steps:

Step 1. Open the RiseUp home page https://mail.riseup.net/.

Step 2. Click to activate virtual keyboard as follows:

Figure 5: The RiseUp Login page with virtual keyboard activated

4. RiseUp Account Settings

4.0 Change Your Account Settings

RiseUp lets you modify different settings for your account. You can specify the size of your email box, change your account name and address, add aliases and much more. You can also create invite codes to help your friends and colleagues register their own RiseUp account.

Step 1. Open the RiseUp Account Settings page as follows: https://user.riseup.net/

Figure 1: The user.riseup.net page

Step 2. Type in your username and password into their corresponding text fields.

Step 3. Click to open the following screen:

Figure 2: The riseup.net user control page

4.1 The My Settings page

The My Settings page displays all the information that you originally entered in the Create a RiseUp Account page.

Step 1. Click to open the following screen:

Figure 3: The Settings page

You can change your username on this screen, which will also change your email address. The new username should also be unique. Here you may also change any other account details such as the alternate email, password and so on.

Note that the fields Language, Country and Time Zone should not be changed to minimise amount of personal information that you store on the server.

Step 2. Type in your new information, then click to display this message:

Figure 4: Successfully updated your changes

4.2 The Email settings page

The Email settings page lets you modify or view information related to email storage. You can even set the 'quota' or amount of space reserved for your email account on a RiseUp server.

Step 1. Click to open the following screen:

Figure 5: The Email settings page

Step 2. Enter an appropriate number into the Quota text field.

Note: Your account is limited in size to a maximum of your disk quota (by default it is 92 MB at this moment). If you need more space, consider downloading your email using a mail client like Thunderbird, and do not keep them on the server.

You may also create aliases for your account on this page. An alias is like a nickname for your account. Whilst the main account will remain as before, people will be able to send email to your alias address as well.

Figure 6: The Aliases section of the Email settings page

Example: ssayyedd@riseup.net account now has two aliases. Email sent to safeandsecure@riseup.net and salsaytest@riseup.net will be forwarded to the main account. This maybe a useful practice to keep your real account address private.

Note There are other configuration settings available on this page which you access from the tabs and links as shown on figure 5. Some of them are:

  • Spam settings : Allows you to configure how a RiseUp server will manage suspected spam (unwanted emails);
  • Mail filters : Allows you to configure a RiseUp server to sort your incoming emails into different folders or delete specific emails;
  • Fix mailbox : Can help in a situation where your mailbox stops working;
  • Restore mail from backups : Can restore your mailbox content from a backup stored on a RiseUp server;
  • Destroy mailbox : Will remove your mailbox completely, along with all emails in all folders. You will be able to log in to this account again and create an new (empty) mailbox.

Step 3. Click to save your new settings.

4.3 The Invites page

The Invites page lets you generate invite codes that are used to invite your friends and colleagues to join RiseUp.

Important: Each new account needs an invite code from two different users. You may generate as many invite codes as you wish.

Step 1. Click to activate the following screen:

Figure 7: The Invites page

Step 2. Click to generate invite codes as follows:

Figure 8: An example of generated invite codes

Note: Each invite code is valid for one month.

Step 3. Click Print invites to print out a copy of the invite codes and give them to the person wishing to create a RiseUp email account.

Step 4. Click to log out of the user panel.


Q: I cannot log in to my Riseup account.

A: Please see the Troubleshooting webmail login in Riseup Email Help. Also see Riseup Help: Frequently asked questions for many other topics.

Q: In which circumstances would I use the default (Roundcube) as opposed to the SquirrelMail web email interface?

A: If for some reason, one email interface is down or has to undergo routine maintenance, you can always continue working on the other email interface without interruption. Also, the SquirrelMail service does not require JavaScript.

Q: When creating my account I am uncomfortable giving information about my self, do I have to supply this.

A: No, you are not required to supply any personal information unless you want to.

Q: How can I create an email account for an activist that I know?

A: You need to know another Riseup user and must each generate an invite code to send to your colleague. He or she will use these two codes when creating a Riseup account.

Q: I noticed the two-factor authentication setting in the Roundcube web mail interface, should I use it?

A: Two-factor authentication provides an additional layer of protection to your email account by requiring the entry of a random, changing code in addition to your password when login in. However at this time even if you set it up and activate you can still access your emails without a need to use two-factor authentication with SquirrelMail web mail interface or with an email client (like Thunderbird) over POP/IMAP access. We are looking forward to further development of the two-factor authentication support on Riseup.