Anonymous Email Systems

During a bored moment I did some searches on Technorati for recent blogs relating to Privacy and Anonymity. One that caught my eye was this one on Blogspot.

Someone did lots of homework on this one, checking out many different services that provide anonymous email services. When I have more time I’d like to work through the list and assess which ones provide casual anonymity and which ones should be considered ‘industrial strength’. The majority of these kind of services fall firmly into the casual anonymity pot. First of all, any service connected to using a browser has the capability to log the IP address of the sender, the content of the mail and the destination. Clearly not very anonymous unless other anonymity tools are employed to mask the HTTP connection, (See Tor). Secondly, any pay services are not anonymous unless there’s a way to anonymously pay the bill. If they don’t offer a way to do this, they aren’t providing good anonymity.

Of the services listed, the nearest thing to industrial strength anonymity (my opinion) is the Cypherpunk remailer system. As the author points out, this can be a royal pain in the ass to use, but there are GUI based clients out there like JBN that do the difficult formatting work. Then there’s the remailer systems that aren’t mentioned, such as Mixmaster and Mixminion. These two are the real winners in the industrial strength world of anonymity. Mixmaster is the production, stable service but it has the drawback that it’s outgoing only; there’s no way to get replies. Mixminion is still in development but overcomes this constraint by way of Single Use Reply Blocks (SURBS). Both services are developed to provide anonymity against even the most powerful of adversaries who can (theoretically) view all points of the Internet simultaneously. Sometimes the anonymity they provide is almost too good as was proved recently when some idiot used them to send fake bomb threats. The authorities find it hard to understand that the operators of the service are unable to provide any information as to who sent them and so the buck abruptly (and sometimes painfully) stops.

1 comment

  1. one anonymous email service not mentioned in the article on the web page you have linked to is called ( it’s free & provides a level of anonymity & a suite of services superior to any of the services included in that review.

Leave a comment