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Email Privacy and Security

by resist Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2003 at 10:03 AM

There are a number of different aspects to secure email and/or anonymous email access. This section is designed to explore the different options available to you for secure email access, as well as when and how to use anonymous email.

Secure Connections for Email Access

Securely connecting to your shell or email service is the first step in protecting yourself from unwanted "sniffers" that may be hanging out in one of the various internet gateways between your home and your server. There are programs that operate to "sniff" out unencrypted passwords and logins, giving a third party access to your account and files stored in your home directory. Sniffers may be set up by malicious hackers, or by government agencies looking for specific file access.

Using a secure shell program, rather than telnet is one way to encrypt this information as it travels back and forth. For more information on Secure Shell programs available to you, check out our page on secure shell.

Other Email Encryption

PGP Encryption is the best way to keep your e-mail private & secure. Get PGP now and learn how to use it.

Anonymous Email

There may be times when you want to conceal your real identity when you use the Internet. You may be protecting yourself against repressive governement messages, or want to post personal messages to a Usenet newsgroups without identifying yourself to the whole world as the person who posted it. There are, of course, issues with the use of anonymous email (ie: it may be difficult for the receivers to trust the message if they do not know where it's coming from), but, having said that, it is obvious that there are times when a sender can not reveal their identity for legal or other reasons.

Anonymous Remailers

These systems do one of two things. Either they give you an anonymous address, to which other people can send you mail, which is then forwarded to your real address (this is sometimes referred to as a pseudonymous server), or they post or mail your message without any trace of the sender's name or address.

Web Based Anonymous Remailers are a very convenient way to remail messages.

Cypherpunk Remailers, also known as "Type I" remailers, simply take your message, strip off all headers and send it to the intended recipient. This means that no one will be able to reply in e-mail to your message, but it gives you an almost untraceable way of sending messages.

Mixmaster Remailers, also known as "Type II" remailers, were designed to be even more secure than cypherpunk remailers. Most of the attacks that work against Type I remailers are useless against Mixmaster remailers. It requires a special client to compose messages.

Nym Servers are a type of pseudonymous remailer. Nym.alias.net is the most popular of this type.

Web-Based Free E-Mail Accounts

There are more and more free e-mail services popping up all over the world, many even give you several choices of domain names (like lawyer.com, etc).

E-mail services are adding more and more features to their email like secure SSL encrypted connections, voice mail, auto-responders, POP3 access, attachments, mail forwarding, mail collection from outside accounts, and more. When applying for these services do not use any real information if you wish to remain private and anonymous. The information is never checked by a real person unless your account is doing something naughty.

Mail sent via these services usually includes the Originating IP address of the host ISP (Internet Service Provider) you used to connect to their web page and if not the mailserver's logs will always have it. To increase your anonymity you should use a web proxy server to hide your IP address. In order to remain anonymous you must use a web proxy EVERY time you access your web based account. You could also connect from a cyber-cafe, library, etc.

In addition, there is no question that all data travelling through large free email servers such as hotmail and yahoo is sniffed and collected by the FBI, so think carefully about what you are sending and to who using these services (this goes for all email you send really).

Some of them require cookies (which can always be deleted afterwards, just don't forget), and frames (some allow you to choose no frames), etc. and can't be used through some web-based proxys (like Anonymizer).

YNN Mail
Hushmail -ssl and pgp support
Fastmail - ssl support
Iobox Mail - formerly GNW mail - Finland
Info Space Mail - Anonymizer friendly
Mail City - Anonymizer friendly
Maui Mail - Anonymizer friendly
MyOwnEmail - 200 domain names
Net@ddress - POP3 access
PO Box
Post Master - (England)
Pronto Mail
Start - (Australia)

Free POP & Shell E-Mail Accounts

Using these from your home telephone is NOT secure. Data transmissions are not much different than voice transmissions, which we know are not secure. Many free web based email accounts now offer POP3 access. You could connect from a cyber-cafe, library, etc. or even check your e-mail from a web-based e-mail client below through a proxy web server.

FreeMail POP Only Juno - Free Dialup accounts (Windows & USA only). Netzero offers free dialup for the US and Canada.

Free E-Mail Forwarding

These will forward all incoming e-mail to another e-mail address. You must have another e-mail address (web or other) already. To increase your anonymity you should use a web proxy server to hide your IP address. In order to remain anonymous you must use a web proxy EVERY time you access your web based account. You could also connect from a cyber-cafe, library, etc.

Big Foot
Net Forward

Web-Based E-mail Clients

These are clients that let you check an existing POP E-mail account using only a Web browser. Check your E-mail anytime, anywhere, with no need to sign up for a web based e-mail account. Useful for those who connect to the Net through a firewall from work school, etc. Web based e-mail that also has POP3 access can be checked through these (most can not).

Mail and News also with SSL
Pop 3 Now also with SSL
Mail Reader also with SSL
also available in Swedish and Norweigan
Mail Start
Also available in Portugese, French and Spanish.
UNO Mail
You can consolidate up to 20 different POP3 accounts through this web-based reader. You can also set up a personal address book.
Panda Mail

Stenography allows you to hide files including e-mail inside of images, sounds and more.

Further Reading and Resources

G.E.Boyd's Everything by Email Web Page

Free email and related services directory

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also good pr Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2003 at 10:23 AM

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