staying anonymous – part 3 email

email (mailing lists) – Email is an important validator of people versus bots. It is also an excellent means to communicate with others and peruse email mailing lists which have some of the most traffic and information sharing of any method presented. However, you certainly do not want to use your own mail address from work, home, school, or even your own home server if you want to preserve your anonymity. Sign up for Google’s Gmail and create an anonymous account.

Do not set up POP3/SMTP on your normal mail client and instead stick solely to the web interface using a non-IE browser that is diligently patched. Using your own client may tempt you to reply, and not every email service is necessarily anonymous when you send your email directly from a client application.

Don’t send your “real” email accounts mail from this anonymous one; don’t send yourself test emails; don’t forward away from this email. Instead, copy-n-paste or test your anonymity using another anonymous mail source that allows you to view full headers. Hotmail, Yahoo, and Hushmail are other choices, although the latter either requires money or it will lock your account if you don’t log in for 3 weeks. If someone gets into your super secret email account, you don’t want your Sent items to give you away (and vice versa if you lose control of your personal account).

For some mailing lists, such as SecurityFocus, you can post replies via a web form (depending on the moderation of the list, you might have to at least provide a valid “on-the-list-already” email address. But at least this way you can check your mailing list anywhere, and always post under one address, or through a web proxy to hide your originating IP.

I also highly recommend finding a favorite throw-away email box. Pookmail is my preferred disposable (yes, I’m dropping Google search terms!) email service. You send an email with a reply address or, wait for a reply and pick it up at the website. Granted, this has zero expectation of privacy, but at least you can use this as a throw-away address. I use this when signing up for software trials and downloads and junk that require a valid email.