Not many people know that it is possible for email senders to know what they have read and when, but rather to know the specifications of the device used for reading by simply clicking “open”, and this happens frequently in newsletters and marketing emails in particular. But the work of trackers is not limited to that, as anyone can hack into your email using many services, some of which are free.
Not only that, data brokers and marketers can create a comprehensive profile of your online life, your emails can also be leaked in the numerous data hacks these days, your email address can be used too! The good news, however, is that there are ways to better protect your email privacy.
Here are some of the services and ways to make your email more private:
1- Hide your email address
This is one of the best and most obvious ways to protect your privacy, and it is done simply by not giving your email address to anyone.
What if you have to give your email address to a company? One solution is to use a service that gives you an email alias; In turn, it forwards incoming messages to the aliased address to the address of your choice. This way, you can get all the emails in your real inbox without the senders knowing your real address.
Perhaps the most famous example of this is Apple’s Hide My Email feature, which gives an unlimited number of aliases, so you can use a different one for each location.
This service works best in Apple’s system. If you log into your iCloud account or through the Safari browser, the option to “hide my mail” will appear in the emails, and you can enter an address Your fake email.
However, this method has some drawbacks. If you are using a non-Apple product or service, the process becomes more time consuming and costly, while email protection with DuckDuckGo is free, which is available in most browsers and is the main search engine in The popular Tor browser.
DuckDuckGo automatically shows the user an option similar to “hide my mail” when asked to provide a site with its email address, from which it can get many aliases.
As for the Firefox Relay, it has a free and a paid option; The free version only gives you 5 aliases, and the paid option has unlimited titles.
Proton, which is famous for its encrypted email service, gives the ability to create alias email addresses using paid Proton Mail starting at $3.99 per month. The cheapest option only gives you 10 aliases, however if you plan to use a different email for everything that won’t be enough.
2- Block Tracking
Whether you provide your real email address or use an alias, it’s best that email senders don’t know if and when you’re reading their messages. Tracking is through links embedded in the email. When you open the message, those links make a connection to the server where the image is hosted, which tells the tracking service that you opened the email and how often you opened it, some information about the device you used, and possibly even your IP address. Your (IP).
Some of the same companies that offer email aliases also have Tracking Blocking services, Apple introduced the Tracking Blocker feature in 2021.
The good news is Mail Privacy Protection is free and easy to enable, so you get a prompt the first time you open Mail asking if you want to turn on this service, or find it in your settings, but the bad news is that this service only works in an app Apple Mail.
As for the Proton mail service, it provides tracker protection by default and is available in both free and paid levels, it will tell you which trackers have been blocked, and reveal to you who is trying to track you, giving you an opportunity to identify companies that are spying on you, but tracker protection is only available on the Proton website .
DuckDuckGo is not associated with any single company or operating system, and it detects and filters trackers before they find their way to your real inbox. In addition, the service removes trackers from links containing emails, and lets you know if an email contains trackers.
To give you an idea of how prevalent these trackers are, DuckDuckGo says that about 85% of the emails that went through its new service in the beta phase of email protection contain trackers.
For the free and paid levels of Firefox Relay, you can remove the trackers as well.
Note that both DuckDuckGo and Firefox options only remove trackers from emails that pass through them, i.e. emails received through the alternate email addresses you created with their services. In other words, these two services do not remove trackers from emails that go directly to your real email address.
3- Rely on yourself
You can count on yourself with the email settings, and make sure that you choose not to download images automatically. In Gmail, for example, you can do this by going to Settings, then General, Photos, and then Ask before displaying external photos.
The downside to this method is that your emails can look like a sea of broken image codes, because you not only block trackers, but all externally hosted images even if they are harmless.
Finally, it must be noted that these services and technologies protect your privacy to some extent, but remember that nothing seems foolproof! If you have identifying information attached to your email address, for example you may have set up an account with it and then ask to have something delivered to your real physical address using your real name, it shouldn’t be difficult for the data broker to match, but because tracking prevention tools are effective; There is always a chance that marketers and the tracking services they use will otherwise come to track you via your emails, and then we will start the whole process of figuring out how to block those trackers again.
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