Email is pretty much a broken form of communication. Natively it’s insecure from the design to the implementation, and there has been no real push to fix it. Almost every email provider out there cares nothing about your privacy and very little about the security for your accounts. Email is such a crucial part of everyone’s life and is the one electronic form of communication that can ruin you. Read my post about what happened to my mother-in-law when her email was hacked: Time for a Security Checkup. This will give you an idea of how broke email is.
I don’t know about you, but my email is probably one of the most valuable things I have, and for good reason too. It literally houses almost all of my communications with the exception of some of my messenger contacts. Like most people, my email typically holds the following:
- Financial information and upcoming bills
- Correspondence with medical providers (me and the kids)
- Professional Associations
- Kids school announcements/info
- Online account signups
- Shopping and receipts
- Invoices for work done around the house
- Maybe you send photos over email
- Many other important items
Needless to say we have a lot of things in our email that could put us in a bad spot if hacked or compromised. We could have identity theft, embarrassment, our social media accounts hacked, or our financial information stolen. It would be a bad day.
Take Back Your Email
Step 1: Obtain a Secure Email
I don’t expect any email to be 100% private, but some companies are aspiring to do just that. Like I mentioned in my Time for a Security Checkup post, there are two email providers that I would recommend as the most secure and the most private you can find. Protonmail and Tutanota.
Personally, I use Protonmail. I got in with them right after they launched and have a number of accounts with them. You are able to sign up anonymously without giving any real information unless you purchase one of their paid plans. Actually, in a future post I will show you a way to have your purchases private too. 🙂 Yes, it’s legal.
Whichever provider you choose to go with you need to have an account/email address with your real name in it. Regardless of who you are (unless you’re some meanie criminal overlord) a real name email is needed for professional correspondence, financial, dependents, medical, and anything else that requires you to be, well, you. If you have a common name, then getting your real name may be a bit difficult, but you may be able to use professional credentials to set you apart. Maybe try janedoeRN, or johndoeMD, or janedoePE, or any other identifier that you would not mind if a prospective employer had it. Just don’t do anything that would cause people to raise an eyebrow. Also, for this email I would avoid any naturist term altogether. I know, it defines you, but we will address that next.
Step 2: Segregate Your Online Presence
In today’s digital world we have identifiers that can link us together in many different ways. Your email address and phone number are almost as valuable as your social security or government ID number. Almost everyone will give out their real email and phone number without a flinch of a second thought. I still catch myself doing it at times, but I’m getting better. Why do we do it? Because we don’t have anything else to give. This is where we need a list of go to email addresses to hand out. These email addresses can be used for things like utilities, professional services, e-receipts, etc. I’m still working on it myself, but I would like a separate email address for each group of services.
Currently, I have three separate, paid Protonmail accounts, and each of them have five email addresses associated with them. I have my personal email address/account that I use to be, me. I have my real name as one, one for professional societies I belong to, a travel one, one with a random number for junk, and I have two vacant ones available for anything I need. Plus, I can purchase more if needed.
I have another account used just for all things related to my blog and naturism. You may have seen emails come from various Protonmail domains at some point. I consider these my “business” accounts…although I don’t make any money doing this despite how much I’ve spent on it. I tried using Protonmail as my domain email provider, but the encryption won’t allow emails to come from the server. Consequently, I had to buy yet another email service just to have newsletter and site memberships. It’s my hobby and I set aside money just for it.
My third paid Protonmail account is used for various other crap that I wish to remain somewhat anonymous for, but requires a real email address. These are different online communities that I belong to outside of naturism. Also, this is the account I have my ProtonVPN service with (maybe another post…maybe). At some point I will combine these, but right now it’s actually cheaper to have all three with 15ish email addresses than to have one account and buy 10 additional.
I know by now your thinking…what in the hell? When I started to learn more about protecting my privacy and online security I kind of just shot from the hip. For most of you this kind of extreme measures won’t be necessary, and I will be pulling it back once the subscriptions come to an end.
So, here is what I would do for you. If you have the means and desire to purchase a paid plan, the basic plan runs $48 or 48 euros annually depending on where you live. I think Tutanota is just a bit cheaper, but I just like Protonmails environment and I use their VPN too. You get 5 email addresses for the account and 5 GB of storage. More than anyone really needs, I think. Additionally, paid accounts can send an encrypted email to anyone via a secure link. If you don’t have the means, or desire, to pay, then I would at least setup a personal email account with your real name, and then add more accounts as you need. I would setup a naturist only account too so you can have that separation if you fear your naturist lifestyle choice could or would be a sticking point or used against you. You can either use your real name or an alias for this. It all depends on how private you want or need to be.
Step 3: Junk Email
Oh my gosh! How many email addresses does one person need? For real?!? So…I don’t use this tactic very much, but I’ve read and heard others using it. I felt like it is one of those ‘good to know’ type things. How many of you have a loyalty card, rewards card, or some other discount card? Everyone, right? How are you able to get freebies and discounts with no membership fees at all? Because you are the product being sold to pay for these ‘rewards’. Nothing is free. When you sign up for these things almost everyone gives out real information. That information you gave the grocery store, gas station, or mall store links it to the card number assigned to you, and then it is sold to advertisers who in turn feed you stuff that you don’t want or need.
Your email is key to this. Now they have a direct way to market to you specifically, and all that data is traded and sold to people looking to make money off your private data. So here is an option you have remove yourself from that mess: Masked email forwarding service. There are a number of these out there, and for the most part they are free unless you want added features.
I have an account with 33mail, but I am considering looking at SimpleLogin. What little bit I have used 33mail I have noticed some services now check and either block or never send an email to them. They know its a masking service and companies want to know who you are so they can make money from you. Based on what I’ve read and heard, SimpleLogin doesn’t seem to have that issue…yet.
So what do these things do and how do they work? You go to their website, sign up for an account, and then you can start making alias emails for junk. I would recommend NOT using your real name email address for this. Make up another. With 33mail you setup the email address you want to use for all email to be forwarded to, and then you setup a @xyz.33mail.com. So, let’s say I have one setup as @AlexisIsGreat.33mail.com, and anytime I want to signup for something that requires an email, then I can make it up on the fly. For example, I want to get the 15% off deal from Macy’s or Nordstrom when I shop their site, but I don’t want them to have my real email address. I would just put in email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. I get an email sent to me, but it goes through 33mail and no one knows the real email I gave. So, at any point I start getting emails from places other than Macy’s or Nordstrom, then I know exactly who sold or shared my info. At that point I can go in and just delete the email alias and I won’t get anymore. SimpleLogin has it setup similar, but you can make up alias email addresses before hand, but 33mail is mainly setup on the fly when you need it.
Whew, we’re done
If anyone is still reading this post I commend you. It was a hard one to write just because no one wants to go through an enormous amount of work that is needed if you want some kind of email privacy. It’s like running a marathon, up hill, against the wind, and soaked to the bone. However, once you get things setup and understand what’s really at work, and how you are taking a huge step to protect yourself, then you will be happy if you see a massive data leak of some website. You can say, oh yeah, I am a member of that site, but who cares because they have no idea who I am.
I will be ending the series soon, and on my last post of the series I will bring it all together and give you some scenarios of how you can use these tactics to remain private. My target audience is anyone who wants to be as private as they can be, but still be part of a community, and the people interested in naturism but are too fearful if they commit. I see nudism as something for everyone regardless if you’re shy and private or public and outspoken. There is a place for all of you. We just need to help you be more comfortable and safe doing it.
Be a private nudist. Be a social nudist. Either way, just be a nudist.
Much love, Alexis