Do you need to send an email, while remaining anonymous? If so, this is the guide for you. Conventional emails are hardly anonymous. They tend to include the sender’s address, aren’t encrypted, and carry IP information as well. Anyone with half a brain can tell where they come from. But as we’ll see, all of these issues can be worked around with relative ease.
Why would you need to send an anonymous email?
Anonymous emails are often associated with dubious activities such as spoofing or phishing, and there’s no doubt that cybercriminals create anonymous email messages in vast quantities. But there are some legitimate reasons for ordinary people to learn how to send an anonymous email.
For instance, you might want to organise a surprise birthday gift for a friend or relative. To persuade them to attend a mystery event, you might send them an anonymous email, pretending to be someone completely different.
And in the world of business, protecting data and contacts is critical. By using anonymous email accounts, highly sensitive communications can be kept confidential, allowing staff freedom to express their opinions without worrying about the consequences.
Then there are situations where one side of a conversation desires privacy. For instance, journalists may be asked by sources to enable them to conceal their identities. In that case, an anonymous email address could be a huge help.
Finally, in a world where states seem to be engaged in a never-ending power grab to control greater surveillance resources, learning how to send an anonymous email is simply good practice. In the future, it could be the difference between evading the gaze of hostile law enforcement agencies and retaining your liberty.
So there are many sound justifications for deciding to create anonymous email accounts. Let’s see how it’s done.
Ways to anonymise your email accounts: what not to do
Before discussing a few effective ways to remain anonymous when you send emails, it’s essential to note a few popular strategies that don’t work – even though they may seem to on the surface.
For instance, when they want to hide their identity, many people simply decide to create email accounts in a different name. This creates a fake persona for sending messages to friends and usually works for that purpose, but it doesn’t deliver proper anonymity.
For starters, most accounts require users to enter some form of genuine authentication such as their phone number. And when you are active on the account, these services probably won’t use encryption.
This means that your IP address is constantly exposed. And this information can be linked pretty easily to your actual location and identity – defeating the purposes of creating a fake account.
So if you want an anonymous email address, we advise that you think a little beyond simply adding another Gmail account. There are more effective tactics than that, and they aren’t very hard to implement.
1. Add a VPN to your fake email account
The first way is straightforward and pretty effective. By adding a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to a fake email account, you can add your own layer of encryption. Moreover, the VPN will scramble your IP address, making it very hard for snoopers to identify who you are.
The VPN is especially essential if you intend to use familiar mass-market email accounts like Yahoo or Gmail. These services log your IP address every time you send a message (and will be happy to hand it over to the government with a legitimate subpoena).
VPNs work around this issue, ensuring that the email provider has no access to your account. So whatever you send will have very few traces of your real-world identity.
If you choose to take this route, make sure that your VPN is running before you access your email account. And carry out IP leakage tests periodically to ensure that your identity isn’t being exposed.
2. Use a remailer
Remailers are specialist tools which take emails and redirect them anonymously to third party addresses. As a result, the recipient should have no idea who sent the original message.
The onward mailing part of using remailers like Rapid Remailer, AnonEmail or Paranoia is pretty reliable and very hard to crack. But there is one potential weakness in using this strategy.
The remailer itself generally knows the origin of every mail that passes through its servers, so users have to trust their privacy policies and corporate integrity. And as a long experience of cybersecurity has taught us, you can’t take either of those things for granted.
Because of this, if you choose to send an anonymous email via a remailer, it makes sense to have a VPN running in the background. That way, the remailer can’t tell where the message came from, ensuring a much higher degree of anonymity.
3. Choose an email provider that uses high-level encryption
Both of the methods above allow you to send emails without alerting the recipient to your real identity. But there’s another element to the question of how to send an anonymous email that they don’t take into account so well: security.
The only way to ensure that the content of your emails remains anonymous and protected from state surveillance or cybercriminals is to use an encrypted email account.
Not all email providers operate this kind of service (and mainstream companies like Gmail definitely don’t), so you’ll need to look for a specialist secure email provider. Fortunately, there are a few around.
For example, ProtonMail provide encrypted email accounts free of charge. When you send a message via their servers, all of the data is encrypted from “end to end” – so it should remain anonymous at every stage.
Moreover, ProtonMail doesn’t ask for personal details when you sign up, and they don’t log IPs. Add a quality VPN to the mix, and there are very few ways your identity can leak out when you use their services.
And ProtonMail isn’t the only place to set up genuinely anonymous email accounts. You can also create an anonymous email with companies like MailFence, Mailinator, and SecureEmail. So there’s plenty of choices.
What about sending an anonymous email with attachment files?
If you’d like to send attachments, instead of simple text emails, there are a few things to think about before jumping in.
Firstly, not all anonymous email address providers offer huge amounts of space for users to fill with photos, Word documents or spreadsheets. So pick a company which gives you some capacity to play with.
More importantly, remember that anonymous emails with attachments are often immediately flagged as spam by recipients – and with good reason. So if you want your attachment to be opened, give a few pieces of genuine information about why the recipient should trust you.
However, the basic process for sending an anonymous email with attachment files is the same as for regular messages. And, as we’ve seen, sending anonymous emails isn’t that hard. Just remember to source a good VPN, pick your provider, and make the most of the tools at your disposal.