We often judge emails by the sender and the subject line, but what if you could send an email anonymously? If the idea of sending an anonymous email has ever crossed your mind or you’ve felt the need to communicate anonymously, read on.
Governments and tech companies used to tell us that we’re becoming safer and more secure online. That our privacy is paramount. That they have our best interest at heart. That our emails are safe from prying eyes.
But when Edward Snowden released the secret NSA documents to The Guardian US, Der Spiegel and The Washington Post, we found out that it was a lie. None of our information was secure – the businesses we trusted had given it up to the government, but only after they had sold it to businesses all over the world.
Sending and receiving emails is one of the most important ways we communicate. Most of us have a lot of sensitive information in our inboxes, and the idea that someone has the ability to view all that information or is potentially doing so is unsettling.
Though we usually use emails for two-sided communication, you may sometimes need to send or receive emails without being identified – and the reasons can be perfectly legitimate. Here are a few examples:
Just as an anonymous phone call, an anonymous email can be a powerful trigger for a change. Whistleblowers can prevent crime and report corruption, abuse, fraud, or other violation of the law by sending anonymous emails. However, whistleblowers put themselves at risk of facing persecution or harassment from those accused of wrongdoing. For this reason, hiding one’s identity gives protection against potential repercussions.
Whistleblowers aren’t just a political phenomenon, either. Unsafe conditions at a workplace, sexual harassment, nepotism, corruption – these problems can arise anywhere. Anonymity makes it easier to do the right thing
In their quest to uncover the truth, journalists can often be monitored and targeted by powerful institutions and corporations or even the government. Anonymous emails would give them the cover they need to communicate with sources and communicate their findings while reducing the risk of reprisals.
Sometimes, you really need to tell someone the ugly truth, but you’re afraid that it will negatively affect your relationship. Maybe you want to give feedback and have good intentions but you know that they’re really bad at dealing with critique. Sending an anonymous message can be a good deed, maintaining your friendly relationships and avoiding conflict.
By using certain software tools, spammers harvest publicly available email addresses from websites, discussion boards, and mailing lists and use them for bulk emailing. To avoid your spam folder being cramped with junk messages, disposable email addresses for unimportant signups or other unsecure recipients can be useful.
If you want to get your message across without it linking back to you, sending an email from your personal or workplace inbox surely is the last thing you want to do.
The easiest method is to create a new email account using any popular email service like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. When doing so, don’t use any information that could identify you personally. Choose a fake name and a fake phone number.
However, even without personal information, these services will still track what you do and collect data on your actions. They’re not a good idea if you want to use your anonymous account more than once.
There are email services on the Internet that let you send and receive emails without revealing your identity. These are so-called “burner” email accounts. Some of the more popular secure temporary emails include Tor Mail (you’ll need to have Tor to use it), Guerrilla Mail, and The Anonymous Email (Guerilla Mail deletes all messages it has sent after an hour, but this service has one big drawback – it announces your IP address. We only recommend using it with NordVPN switched on to hide your IP).
To avoid your personal inbox being swamped with spam and promotional newsletters, you can use a receive-only service like Mailinator. This way, instead of giving your real email address when signing up for unimportant email lists, you can provide one of Mailinator’s public addresses.
This is like step #1 on steroids. Encrypted email services like ProtonMail and Tutanota give you 80-90% of the functionality of common email services while completely encrypting your emails, inbox, and even contact lists. The way they store their encryption keys means that they couldn’t read your emails even if they wanted to. To decide which service is right for you, check out our Tutanota review, where we compare it with ProtonMail.
In the case of whistleblowers or journalists, powerful institutions may (legally or otherwise) persuade your email provider to turn over your IP address. After all, whistleblowers are often considered insubordinate rulebreakers, lawbreakers, or even traitors before they become heroes.
You can protect yourself by making sure your email provider never gets your IP address in the first place. The best tool to do that is NordVPN. One of its core functions is to hide your IP address from wherever you go online, and its no-logs policy means that NordVPN won’t have any IP addresses available to hand over to anyone.
Speaking of anonymous emails – when you sign up for our blog newsletter – all we get is your email address. No names, no nothing! Sign up below: