One-stop guide to anonymous email services in 2023

In the big bad world of the internet, an anonymous email account can protect you on many levels. Learn how to use it, and check out the best ESP for anonymity.
Securing your email is crucial to protecting yourself on the internet since the most private details of our lives pass through our inboxes every day. But most email services are goldmines of poorly secured personal data that can be used to track users online, and everyone from advertisers to attackers may take advantage of it.The good news is that using an anonymous email service can make you bulletproof against some of the internet's worst privacy abusers. It's especially important if you are:
  • Signing up for hundreds of online services
  • Dealing with sensitive data in fields such as health, journalism, finance, law, and nonprofit
  • Protecting yourself from online bullies and stalkers
  • Interested in avoiding all types of surveillance
Anonymity is a relative term on the internet. Merely using an obscure username like [email protected] doesn’t cover your tracks. In this article, we’ll discuss:
  • What true email anonymity entails
  • How to find the best anonymous email service
  • How to set up an anonymous email account and send a private message
Protect your online identitySkiff Email's anonymous email service keeps your online activities private
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What sending an anonymous email means

An anonymous email means it cannot be traced back to you—it is as simple as that. Regular email service providers (ESPs) like Gmail and Outlook cannot offer complete privacy, even in the Outlook or Gmail Confidential Modes, because they store the entire history of a user’s online imprint. In the wrong hands, your email address or message can reveal compromising details, such as the information you provided during signup, every website you logged into with your email, your location—even the brand of designer sweatpants you prefer and your latest online searches.Privacy and anonymity are slightly different concepts when discussing email exchange. A private email service mainly focuses on keeping messages private between the intended participants, using extra measures to prevent data interception on the network. Anonymous email accounts offer more than communication privacy because they don't contain any identifiers (like an IP address, personal information, or device name) that can be linked back to you.Creating a one-time-use email account or one with fake credentials doesn’t necessarily give you secrecy. For an email service to be truly anonymous, it should:
  1. Have complete end-to-end encryption (E2EE)
  2. Hide the sender’s data (including email subject)
  3. Collect or store no user data on its servers
Let’s understand how these form the essential criteria for anonymity.

End-to-end encryption is necessary to send and receive anonymous emails

You may have heard of encryption as an email security method. The technique converts a message into ciphertext to make it unintelligible to unintended parties. The message can be restored to its original form only with a decryption key.Almost every commercial provider uses some form of encryption to secure emails as they travel through intermediaries like SMTP servers and network routers before reaching the recipient. The problem is that they typically use data-in-transit or data-at-rest encryption protocols, and they are not as strong as end-to-end encryption (E2EE).

How E2EE facilitates anonymity

The following table explains how E2EE serves online anonymity better than in-transit and at-rest encryption methods:
Encryption designStrengthDecryption key holder
Data in transitEmails are encrypted while traveling between servers. All major providers, including Gmail, use in-transit encryption protocols like Transport Layer Security (TLS)The decryption key is created and managed by the service provider, making it vulnerable to network-level hacking attempts, misconduct by rogue email service employees, and authoritative surveillance
Data at restEmails are encrypted only when stored on the cloud or other virtual storage facilities, not during transitSame as above
End-to-end encryptionE2EE entails encrypting messages on the sender’s device and decrypting them only when they reach the recipient. It’s the strongest encryption possible because it implies your data is encrypted both in transit and at rest and your content remains encrypted and shielded from prying eyes until it reaches the recipient—never beforeThe users (not the providers) create and manage the keys, so your anonymity cannot be compromised by anyone on the network
Many encryption services are advertised as anonymity-friendly, but they only offer a combination of in-transit and at-rest protection, which is not enough. If you don’t want your everyday communication to be scanned or dissected, go for reliable E2EE email providers like Skiff. With Skiff, you get end-to-end encryption by default and not as a special configuration or additional service. The platform also offers E2EE-protected document creation, collaboration, storage drive, and calendar features.

Sender data for anonymous emails should be fully hidden

Your email content is not the only risk factor for anonymity. Every email you send contains metadata that can be used to identify you. For example, many servers insert your IP address into email headers, which easily reveals your location and, in certain cases, even the name and address associated with it. An email’s metadata also contains other identifiers like:
  • Sender’s address
  • Receiver’s address
  • Timestamp
  • Routing path
  • Encryption details (type, key size, etc.)
A lot of information can be pulled from the raw data connected to an email. That’s why anonymity-conscious users choose providers like Skiff that encrypt the sender’s IP address along with the email content and attachments.Besides using email services that do not collect metadata (like an IP address), you can use the following IP address-masking products if you want to enhance your privacy further:
  1. Virtual Private Network (VPN)—A quality VPN service turns a public internet connection into a private one by encrypting your IP address and online traffic, although it may cause your browser to slow down
  2. The Onion Router (TOR)—TOR network uses the long way to relay data. It distributes your network traffic across several servers around the globe before reaching the desired server, making it extremely difficult for anyone to narrow down your IP address or location

Servers of anonymous email providers must be free from user identifiers

The last loose end you must sort out is whether your provider’s servers can become a vantage point of your data.Even when you use a burner email (also called temporary or disposable email) to send anonymous messages, you never know if the service provider’s servers store a copy of your communication, IP address, or device fingerprint.Again, no server, whether public or private, is completely hack-proof. If your info is resting on a server, an interested party may try to access it. De-anonymization is a common trick used by hackers to pinpoint your identity and hack your apps or accounts. The technique requires matching the data extracted from an anonymous email to publicly available info related to the address—for example, if you used the same address to sign up on a gaming website, your anonymous profile now has a detail associated with you.The only way to remain confidently anonymous on the web is to use service providers that have a strong privacy policy. They should ideally store no data that can compromise the sender, including signup data and IP addresses. If they store nothing, hackers or surveillance agencies will have nothing to gain from the provider’s servers.
Secure anonymous communicationSkiff's Zero-trust privacy policy creates a safe and reliable platform to communicate without leaving any trace behind
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Skiff is the best free anonymous email service—here’s why

Skiff checks all the right boxes when it comes to preserving a user’s anonymity. Its stellar privacy-first features include:
  • Robust E2EE architecture—With Skiff, your entire account is end-to-end encrypted, and that includes your messages, drive content, calendar entries, and documents. Skiff uses E2EE wherein every user has public-private key pairs. When you send an email, it is encrypted using the recipient’s public key and decrypted with the private key that is stored on their device and never gets shared over the network. That ensures users have full ownership over their correspondence
  • Zero-trust privacy policy—A zero-trust policy is designed to leave nothing to chance in protecting your data privacy. It assumes that anyone inside or outside the network might at some point act maliciously to compromise message content, and it protects against all these possibilities. Skiff’s zero-trust privacy policy means that no one on the network—not even Skiff—has access to the content or subject of your messages
  • Zero-knowledge signup and login—You don’t have to provide any sensitive data (like a phone number or birth date) while creating your Skiff account or for further logins. Skiff’s servers have nothing to give you away and your password is never sent over the network either
  • Email aliases—Email aliases enable you to have multiple addresses going to the same inbox and can act like burner addresses. With Skiff, you can create multiple email aliases to send messages or sign up for unreliable services. Delete the alias anytime you want
  • Crypto wallet support—Skiff enables you to integrate your crypto wallet with your account and establish true ownership over your identity in an E2EE-secure environment. Use your wallet ID to anonymously:

How to send an anonymous email with Skiff

You can start sending anonymous emails with Skiff within five minutes! All you have to do is set up your account (it’s free!). Here’s what the process looks like:
  1. Navigate to the Skiff signup page
  2. Add the username you want (can be letters, numbers, or both)
  3. Provide and verify a password—and you’re done!
As you can see, Skiff has no pocket to collect user data, like your phone number. Still, you should do the following for extra email security:
  • Add a two-factor authentication (2FA)—2FA enhances your login security by asking you to provide out-of-band verification, such as an OTP or a fingerprint
  • Provide a recovery email address—Since Skiff doesn't store user data, it can’t help users recover accounts with lost passwords. Adding a secondary recovery email can be useful in such cases
Once your account is created, transfer your emails and draft and send a new one with your username or alias—your anonymity stays foolproof. Keep in mind that Skiff is not an anonymity-only service. You can add custom domains and professional user signatures as well if you want to use your account for business. All Skiff users get email tracking protection and enhanced resistance against spam mail and common phishing attacks.Skiff Mail is an open-source product. You can check out the code, whitepaper, and UI libraries online to understand how the company has designed its service.

Take your anonymity to the next level with the Skiff Product Suite

Skiff is driven to promote a privacy-first atmosphere across everyday tools. Every Skiff Mail user gets free access to the following products:
  1. Skiff Drive (with free 10 GB storage)
  2. Skiff Pages (for all types of documents and real-time collaborations)
  3. Skiff Calendar (integrates natively with Skiff Mail)
You can use Skiff for free—you get abundant storage, an email search option, and multiple aliases, among other benefits. Switch to paid Pro or Business tiers if your needs are higher. Here’s a glimpse of the available plans:
Drive storage10 GB15 GB100 GB1 TB
Sending messages (limit)200/dayUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Folders and labels5UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Custom signatures
Auto reply
Schedule or undo send
Email + doc text search
E2EE link sharing
Document limitUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited aliases4101015
Custom domains01215
Workspace collaborators666Unlimited
Doc version history24 hours24 hoursUnlimitedUnlimited
The best part about Skiff is the platform’s modern, intuitive user interface. Whether you use the browser client or download the Android, iOS, or macOS apps—Skiff’s design is clutter-free and easy to navigate on every platform.Skiff has a secure, centralized storage system, but it also offers optional integration with IPFS (InterPlanetary File System), a peer-to-peer platform for distributed storage.

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