Circa 1993, I registered my first .COM and .NET domain for the small company I worked for and got a couple unix shell accounts to access it. The Internet of the early 90’s was amazing, had no publicity, no search engines, no web browsers and no idiots. Just a worldwide network of universities, some government agencies and a few medium-large companies. Some of it was managed by volunteers and everything was pretty much open source and freely available.
In those days, registering a domain name was free of charge and you only had to get in touch with the person handling the registrations for the root level domain you wanted a domain name for (.COM, .NET, .ORG, .CA).
But then, a really bad thing happened to the internet. Scrupulous people found out about it and a race to make money off of anything and everything began. Domain name squatting, spam emails, webpage pop-ups, personal information grabbing and reselling… were just the new sad reality. Some Companies began offering all kinds of “free” stuff (Mostly Webpages and Email boxes) just to acquire your personal information and exploit it.
When people began registering domains in blocks, that’s when the internet decided to start charging. It became a shitshow of domain squatting in a no-rules land. I paid $50/year to acquire my second domain name. The internet was now a business.
But recently, I bought a domain name for $10/yer and it includes the DNS hosting. For an extra $25/year, my provider includes an email box, which comes with unlimited aliases creation capability.
What is an alias? It’s another name for your email address. So, if your actual email address is mymailbox@mydomain, then you can create email prefix (Alias) entry (Ex: “alias”@mydomain) and have it redirect incoming emails for that alias to your mymailbox@mydomain.
Using alias emails, I create an alias entry for every business entities who asks what my email is. For my bank, I give them “bankname@mydomain”, for insurances I provided them with “insurancename@mydomain” and so on. Every business that ask for my email address gets a personalized email alias. So, why am I doing this?
Ownership and control
You have no idea what large companies do with your personal information in exchange for a “free” email accounts. This also applies for email address that YOU pay for, but don’t own, Example email@example.com. You may pay for the email box, but they OWN the domain name and bad things can happen because of that.
What if one day, that “free” email provider decides to close shop? What if your email provider owning the domain decides to stop providing it? What now? If this happens, you will be left in the lurch, not being abled to receive email from anyone anymore, which can become a huge headache now that everything runs on the internet. You wouldn’t be able to change your passwords anymore, wouldn’t be able to use email as an identity validator (Two Factor Authentication), and would need to spend countless hours trying to contact every companies you deal with, and try to convince them that your email address is no longer valid and was taken away.
For the price of $40/year (Or less – Prices are always going down!), you can prevent those headaches, avoid having large free email providers read your emails and profile you, and take back control of your privacy.
Nip it in the bud & Secure your information
I haven’t told you about the fun part of owning your own domain, specially assigning aliases to companies you deal with an “alias”. Here’s a personal experience I ran into recently;
I wanted to shop for a new Home & Car” insurance. I called 3 insurance companies to get a quote. When they asked me what my email address was to send me a quote, I gave them their own company’s name @mydomain. So, if I called StateFarm for a quote, I gave them statefarm@mydomain as an email address they can use.
I kid you not, doing that confuses the heck of most people. They always ask you “Oh!?, you work for our company?”, not truly understanding how email addressing works. I reply to their question with “It’s a DISPOSABLE email address, so if one day, I stop being a customer, I will dispose of that email (ALIAS), and you will no longer be able to send me spans and junk mail or anything else your marketing people will think of”.
Yeah, that puzzles the hell of them because it’s true. Imagine is everyone had the capability to assign Aliases to email being shared and have control of who can send email to them, that would pollute every companie’s emailing lists and make them worthless. But I digress.
How you create a disposable email address
1) Acquire a domain name from a registration provider which also offer hosting services. No, NOT GoDADDY! – Large providers are ruthless and will go thru your stuff in no time. Find a small provider who doesn’t have “deals” with the devil or vested interests to allow “security” agencies monitor its customers emails. I recommend “Rebel“, the provider I use for cheap domain and hosting requirement. If you are on the fringe and trust no one, you can get a domain and hosting from “Protonmail”. Make sure they provide “alias” capability at no extra charge.
Unfortunately, most domain names have been taken for squatting purpose and want ransoms to acquire them. But since the democratization of the root domain names architecture, multiple suffix have been added, Example: .co, .xyz, .click, .tech, .college, .name, .art, .photo, .biz, .info, .studio, .life, . team, .band, .email and so on …
Pick one that fits your need. I would recommend your family name as a domain. If you are named John Smith, then SMITH.MAIL might be a good choice.
2) Get that Email Box from your provider! If you get the domain name and the email box from the same provider, it should be easy and transparent. Your email provider will as for the domain name associated with that email box. Once they realize they are the hoster of the DNS entry for that domain name, they will ask you for the mailbox name you want to have created “Firstname@” is recommended. So if you have your domain name representing your family name, and your mailbox name representing your first name, then your new email address will be First@Lastname , and you are in business!
3) Start creating those aliases! Having the capability to create Aliases will also give you the capability to create what is called a “Catch All” alias. This means that any prefix used will redirect emails to your Real mail box. Example: make-something-up@Lastname, will redirect inbound emails to your real mail box Firstname@Lastname. That might be acceptable at first, but won’t allow you to create “disposable email addresses”.
To do that, you need to create an alias for each companies you provide your email address with an put their name as the prefix. Example yourbank@. Then redirect that alias to your real mailbox (Firstname@Lastname). Congradulation, you have created a disposable email address!
Fun Tip: If a company ask you for your email address, and you haven’t create and alias for them, just make one up and create the alias entry later. The fun part will be the face of the person asking you the email address as I guarantee you they will be puzzle by the fact that their company’s name is in YOUR email address. To be cute, you can tell them you like their company so much that you decided to use their name as a prefix and leave it at that. They don’t need to know the true reasons behind disposable email addresses.
Fun Tip#2: If you acquire your own domain name, and specially if you score your family name, you can invite your family members to share that domain name acquiring cost and let them have their very own personalized mailbox and start using the disposable address also.
No mailbox is 100% secure. There are just different levels of security in reality. Access your mailbox using protocols like POP3 or IMAP doesn’t make your email access 100% secure, as prying eyes can intercept and see your mail while its being transferred between your mailbox provider and your computer. To avoid this, you need to make sure your email hosting provider has a WebPortail, supports HTTPS (Secure HTTP Connection), and is provided at no extra cost. Then, you will be able to access your mailbox with peace of mind, knowing that any lurkers on the internet will only see encrypted garbage if they happen to sniff your data stream.
“Protonmail” uses such email access scheme as it’s the only way to protect your email content information when being transferred from the email server to your PC. It still doesn’t make it 100% secure, it just makes it a hell of a lot more complicate for prying eyes to get access to your private information.
If you are still getting your personal email box from a large company, for free, you are an idiot. I’m sorry I had to say it, but it’s true. These “Free mailbox” provider never tell you why they are providing “Free” stuff, and most people don’t bother reading the 20 pages of legal mumbo jumbo you have to agree to before getting your “free” stuff. Out of curiosity, I actually read the legal gumbo jumbo from those companies and am shocked by its content. Of course, it is written in a why most people won’t understand, but believe me that if a deal with the devil would be written down, it would take the form of most agreements you sign with a large company.
I hope you enjoy your Disposable Email Addresses.
This was my view.
Cheers and beers.