We judge emails by the sender and the subject line. But what if you could send an email anonymously? If the idea of an anonymous email has ever come to your mind or you have encountered a situation when you needed to communicate a message without disclosing who you are, read on.
What the governments and tech companies used to tell us is that we’re increasingly safer and more secure online. That our privacy is paramount. That they have our best interest at heart. Our emails are safe from all prying eyes.
But when Edward Snowden released the secret NSA documents to The Guardian US, Der Spiegel and The Washington Post in 2013, we found out that it was a lie. None of our information was secure –the businesses we trusted had given up it to the government.
There are many people who would like to keep their information private. They can be political activists being clamped down by governments or whistleblowers like Snowden. Or they could just be average people who want to know that no one is watching them.
Sending and receiving emails is one of the most important ways we communicate. Most of us have a lot of sensitive information in there, and the idea that someone has the ability to view all that information or is potentially doing it is unsettling.
Even though normally we use emails for two-sided communication, under certain circumstances you may need to send or receive emails without being identified. And that doesn’t have to involve malicious causes. Here are a few examples to consider:
Just as an anonymous phone call, an anonymous email can be a powerful trigger for a change. Whistleblowers can prevent crime, report corruptive behavior, abuse, fraud, or violation of laws by sending information to concerned parties. 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.
Sometimes it happens that you really need to tell someone the ugly truth, but you’re afraid that it will negatively affect your relationships. Maybe driven by only good intentions you want to give feedback to a person but you know that he or she is really bad at dealing with critique. So sending an anonymous message may seem like a perfect solution for doing the good deed, maintaining friendly relationships, and avoiding swords of anger heading your way.
By using specific software tools, spammers harvest publicly available email addresses from websites, discussion boards, and mailing lists and use for bulk emailing. To avoid your spam folder being cramped with junk messages, disposable email addresses for unimportant signups come useful.
If you wish to get your message across without it linking back to you, sending an email from your personal or workplace inbox surely is a thing you DON’T want to do.
The easiest thing you can do is to create a new email account using any of the popular email services – Gmail, Yahoo, etc. When doing so, don’t use any of the information that could identify you personally. You should go with a fake name and a fake phone number.
An alternative to using your regular mailbox is setting up an encrypted email service. Some of the more popular ones include ProtonMail, Hushmail or Tutanota. Email encryption services are becoming increasingly user-friendly.
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 (all mail is deleted after an hour), and The Anonymous Email.
To avoid your personal inbox being swamped with spam and promotional newsletters, you can use a receive-only service, such as Mailinator. This way, instead of giving your real email address when signing up for unimportant email lists, you can provide one of public Mailinator’s addresses.
An IP address can reveal your geographical location and websites you visit, so if you’re about to send an anonymous email, you should protect your IP address first. The easiest way to do is to use VPN or Tor, or the combination of both.
Tor (The Onion Router) anonymizes your communications online by relaying your traffic through nodes all over the world. They bounce it around before it reaches its final destination, making it complicated to figure out where the communication originally came from. The system is great and constantly improving, as the governments try to find ways to track down Tor users.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) hides your IP address by creating a secure connection to a server of your choice. Your sensitive data secured when you browse the web, as it flows through an encrypted tunnel.
NordVPN keeps no logs of users’ online activity, meaning no record of your communications exists. What’s even better, NordVPN offers Onion over VPN, so that instead of choosing whether to use Tor or VPN, you can just use both.