How To Send a Truly Anonymous Email
Ever wanted to contact someone without them being able to identify you? Wanted to put an opinion across that must not be associated with your job, religion, profession or whatever? You can still do that even now with a little effort. It is still possible to send a truly anonymous email to get your point across without any repercussions. Here’s how.
It’s easy to believe that privacy is dead in these troubled times. ISPs can now spy on everything you do, the government has the ability to see and hear everything that happens online, ads track you, super-cookies monitor where you go and what you do and don’t get me started on phones!
All that said, it is still possible to have privacy when online. Anonymous browsers, VPNs, disposable email accounts, secure browsers, cookie cleaners and TOR are all tools you can use to maintain your privacy online. I am passionate about privacy so I love it when these questions come up at TechJunkie!
Being anonymous online
It doesn’t matter whether you have anything to hide or not, you have a right to go about your business without surveillance. At least you should do. Communications is one of those activities you should be able to undertake without fear of surveillance. Here is how to achieve that.
Being able to send a truly anonymous email first begins by being anonymous online. There are levels to this and you can choose to use one or all of them. For the ultimate in privacy, set up Virtualbox on your computer and install a copy of Linux onto it. This will be a ‘clean’ computer with no personal details on it whatsoever.
Then install the TOR browser within Linux. This uses distributed networking to obfuscate your location and adds a valuable layer of privacy. On it’s own it is fairly secure but does have weaknesses. Used in conjunction with these other precautions and you should be quite secure.
Finally, add a VPN to the main PC that hosts your Linux VM. TechJunkie has a lot of coverage of VPNs so there is a lot of information out there.
If you go the whole way, you should now be running a sterile Linux computer in a virtual machine. It should have a working TOR browser and the entire system will use a VPN to encrypt all communication. Aside from some hardcore network hardening, that’s pretty secure!
Truly anonymous email
You can set up an anonymous email account in two ways. You can create a fake persona and use a mainstream webmail service like Gmail or Hotmail. Or you could use a disposable email service like Protonmail or Tutanota. These latter services come at a price and while good at what they do, there is no need to pay for email.
I tend to recommend the first option. Creating a fake persona is a bit of fun but is also reusable, can be used elsewhere online and can be as secure as you need it to be.
Come up with a name, location, age and a little backstory for your new fake person. Make it as similar to your real self as possible while still being completely different. For example, shift your birthdate one digit across, use the same initials in your first and last name, use a state you lived in where you were a kid or whatever you like. The more elements of familiarity you have, the easier it will be to remember it.
Balance that with also being completely different. You want to imagine your best friend seeing this person’s details and not thinking it is you. If your buddies wouldn’t link you to your new persona, the rest of the internet is unlikely to either. Keep a record of your new persona but keep it safe. Then, once memorized, you can delete the record.
Then set up an email address with these fake details. Log onto the internet using your new secure setup first of course and then register. When it comes to verification, use a burner SIM or app like Burner for phone verification. There are lots of apps like Burner so you can shop around if you like.
Sending an anonymous email
When it comes time to sending the email, first you log on using your virtual machine, using TOR and your VPN. You then log onto your new email account using your new fake credentials. Everything is now in place for you to send an anonymous email.
Write your email as you normally would but don’t send it yet. Take a long hard look at the language you have used and try to identify any words you tend to use a lot. For example, I know I use ‘neat’ a lot and structure my sentences in a particular way. If you can identify any of those kinds of things in your writing, edit and change them for one more degree of separation. Then you can send your anonymous email.
Setting all this up takes a little while but if you value your data it’s what you have to do. Now go and do it and take back your privacy!