Ladar Levison gave a standing room-only crowd of around 2,000 people an update on his DarkMail encrypted email project. Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Email was not originally intended to be cryptographically hidden from prying eyes, but one-click, end-to-end email encryption is just what Ladar Levison is within six months of achieving.

Or it will be, he told a standing room-only audience of around 2,000 hackers and security experts at DefCon on Friday evening, if all goes according to plan.

Levison is the founder of the webmail service Lavabit that is widely believed to have been used by Edward Snowden. Levison shuttered it rather than hand over Lavabit's encryption keys and source code to the US government.

He told the enthusiastic crowd that his DarkMail project has expanded.

Now called the Dark Internet Mail Environment, or DIME, it's an ecosystem comprised of email transfer protocols DMAP and DMTP, the email server Magma, and a Mozilla Thunderbird-based desktop email client called Volcano.

"DarkMail combines all my knowledge of security and email into one last hurrah," Levison said in a conversation with CNET following his DefCon presentation where he used DarkMail and DIME interchangeably.

Related stories Lavabit chief predicts 'long fight' with feds (Q&A) Lavabit founder says he fought feds to protect the Constitution 'Dark Mail Alliance' looks to create user-friendly e-mail encryption Lavabit founder launches Kickstarter for encrypted email

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