Everyone has started thinking more along the lines of being anonymous online lately, and your email is one key area of this. Why use a service for everything you do just for it to track you? Why send important documents from an email that someone can easily find attached to your name? The risks, and ease of hacking many of the top providers, is just too great to not be smart when you need to be.
But wait a minute! You’re a good, upstanding citizen with nothing to hide. You even squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom …what could you possibly need an anonymous email provider for?
Why do people use anonymous email?
There are many perfectly law-abiding reasons why someone would want to use an anonymous email provider:
- Contacting a divorce lawyer, or any lawyer of any kind? Well you’ll want to keep this separate from your main, and well known, email as someone could be tracking it.
- Researching a story for work? Using your main email can see you hacked by a competitor with all of your research stolen.
- Sign up for a lot of websites? Cut down on the amount of spam sent to your account by signing up for an anonymous, and temporary, email. Now the sites you signed up for can’t leak your main email address, cutting down on spam dramatically.
- Complaining about a product? Send feedback without worry of facing any repercussion. It can be hard to tell the truth when you worry it can come back at you.
- Wanna be a whistleblower? You may not be Edward Snowden, but you could probably use a little protection if you need to blow the whistle on a violation of a company, or person, you know.
- Contacting your local police? You saw a crime being committed by some bad folks, but you’re scared it could be traced back to you. Send an anonymous email so you don’t face reprisals from the baddies.
Those are 5 perfectly valid, law-abiding, reasons to use an anonymous email provider. Let’s look at how to use one, and then list 10 which work well.
The first step in using email anonymously
Ok, using an anonymous email provider is one step in a longer process. If you truly want to send an anonymous email you have to first use a VPN. This online tool will hide your IP address. IPs, are, basically, the single most easily identifiable piece of information about you. If you don’t hide it, you’re not gaining any privacy at all.
If you’re new to VPNs, choose one with an easy to understand client to make your life easier. Once you’re connected to your VPN provider, open a private window with your browser of choice. This will help keep cookies from tracking your movements across the web. Don’t be lazy though, using this tactic alone will not do much to protect you.
Sending emails without registration
There are different levels of ‘anonymous’, or private, email providers out there. One of them is emails which do not require any registration. This prevents people from being able to track it back to your main email. This works great for when you only need an email temporarily, such as those whistleblowers out there.
Here are 4 which work:
1. Anonymous Email: This tool works off of ads, so you will be shown some and blocked if you have Ghostery or an ad blocking tool on. You can send an email one-way by entering the recipient’s email address and your message, and there is an option for a reply to.
2. Cyber Atlantis: Another tool which will strip out your IP address, giving you another layer of protection. Still no replacement for a VPN as your IP address from landing on the site could, potentially, be traced. Very simple interface as well.
3. GILC’s W3 Remailer: This is a remailer tool is from the Global Internet Liberty Campaign, formed in 1996, has left this tool up. It doesn’t look like they’ve done much since 2003, so use it knowing it’s a dinosaur gathering dust.
4. Send Email: It doesn’t get much more basis than this one. All it requires is an address to send to, a subject, and the email body. An optional reply to is set up. Everything is handled in a black, white, and blue interface that keeps the site running swiftly.
There are others out there, but these 4 have been around a long time and show no signs of going anywhere. If all you need to do is send an email, and not receive, they’re a perfect choice. Just connect to your VPN, point your browser to one of them, and send what you need to send.
Sending and receiving anonymous emails
Sometimes you want to both send and receive anonymous email. I’ve personally used one of these tools while reporting crime in my area, fearing reprisal if it was ever traced back to me. I sent an email to my local precinct (at the time, this was a lifetime and continent ago), and kept the email client open incase they asked for more details.
Emails that will allow you to both send and receive encrypted emails include:
1. Guerilla Mail: Not only is the service anonymous, but you can also set it up to ‘self destruct’ after a certain amount of time. To make it more likely that it beats spam filters, both digital and human, you can change the address on both sides of the @ symbol to make it as ‘real’ looking as you wish.
2. Secure Mail: Pretty much exactly the same as Guerilla mail in customization, but also adds a 4096-bit encryption key. They don’t self destruct, and you do have to sign up with a password. You’ll need to create a passphrase you can remember or write it down in only the most secure of places. Like the inside of your cheek…
3. My Trash Mail: Another temporary email address provider which has been around for some time. All accounts eventually expire and are deleted as this was originally set up to protect against spam.
4. Discard.Email: Once known as Spambog, this anonymous email provider has a wide range of domains to choose from, and allows you to choose your own handle. Emails in your inbox last for 30 days, after that they are digitally gone forever.
The point of all of these anonymous email providers is that they allow you to both send and receive email. Their temporary nature makes it so you have to be a bit flexible on remembering new sign in details, but the price of anonymity is often a bit of extra work.
Stay anonymous when sending email
Communication that is private is a basic human right, and has been so for years. How we have gone from governments needing a warrant to listen to a phone call, with strict parameters on what can be listened to, to a surveillance program which can monitor anything being said by anyone, is beyond comprehension. Add hackers and online spam into the mix and it’s no wonder that anonymous emails aren’t already a much more common thing.
Follow the steps above, make sure you’re using your VPN to connect with giving away your IP address, and use the email provider above which best suits your needs.
Guest Author: Marcus is the security writer for Best VPN Provider.co. You can catch his weekly blog post on security and privacy related matter every Wednesday. If you’re into downloading, he does a weekly column on the week’s most downloaded films every Friday. Follow the @BestVPNs Twitter account for breaking news in the world of online privacy and security.